Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Seniors and Souvganiyot

Every year, our family spends one night of Chanukah at the Bet Tovei Ha'ir Senior Residence. My mother-in-law and great-aunt are lucky enough to live there, so we join them as everyone comes out into the lobby to light the giant golden-colored menorah. Residents also have their own chanukiyot (menorahs) lined up in the lobby, but it's the main ceremony that gets the most attention.
The menorah is lit and all the seniors stand together and sing "Maoz Tzur." It is very lovely.
This year after candle lighting, there was an Erev Shira (Song Night). The lobby was set out like a theater, and a performer sang old and new Israeli and Jewish songs. The words were on a screen behind him, so really everyone could participate. Every night of Chanukah brings a different entertainer to Bet Tovei Ha'ir, but the Erev Shira is always a favorite with songs that had residents reminiscing about the past - "When I first heard that song, I was in the north on Kibbutz. We worked the fields with a rifle on our shoulders..." "The war was over and we had just gotten married. They played that song at our wedding..."
We stayed for the majority of the Erev Shira, but because the hour was growing late for our littlest children, we slipped away to Savta Rabba (Great-Grandmother)'s apartment for latkes (potato pancakes) and apple sauce, whistling dreidles and gooey souvganiyot (jelly donuts).
When her great-grandchildren were sufficiently stuffed with goodies and their faces were completely covered with melted chocolate, it was time for Savta Rabba to bid everyone a good night. Happy Chanukah, ad 120.

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