With Rosh Hashanah on the horizon, the residents of Beit Tovei Ha’Ir are looking forward to being able to pray and eat together during the High Holydays.
Masks, handwashing and social distancing are part of the ‘new normal’ at Beit Tovei HaIr and most other residential homes around the world. At Beit Tovei Ha’Ir, the residents are divided into groups of 20 people who can sit together but separately from other groups. They can participate in a busy and varied program of Tefillot, lectures, walks around Jerusalem, musical performances and other activities, as long as they stay in their groups and wear masks. On Shabbat they can sit at separate tables in the communal dining room, but during the week they eat their meals in their own apartments.
70% of the residents of Beit Tovei HaIr are English speakers. Some of them made Aliyah many years ago from the United States, Canada or the UK and lived independently in the Jerusalem area. Others have moved to Israel recently to be closer to their children and grandchildren but don’t want to be a burden.
Simcha and Marilyn Mandelbaum
Simcha and Marilyn Mandelbaum have lived in Beit Tovei Ha’Ir for the past 2 years. Marilyn says: “We realise that we are the lucky ones. Our friends and cousins back in New York are alone in their apartments, afraid to go outside. They may not even be able to go to Shule on Rosh Hashanah, but we hope we will be able to attend Tefillot in the Lobby. Even those who cannot leave their rooms here can open their doors and hear the singing.” Simcha Mandelbaum attends shiurim in Hebrew every day, and the couple have made many friends. They live in their own apartment with a full kitchen and can make their own meals or ask for food to be brought up to them. “We have a wonderful support team here who make sure that we have everything we need. If our daughters want to visit us, they can ask for a Corona test and get the results within 24 hours. Our grandchildren come often to visit us. We sit on the patio and they sit on the other side of the plastic fence so we can see and talk to them. We moved in here when we were both 87 years of age and we really made the right decision!”
The staff at Beit Tovei Ha’Ir do whatever they can to fulfill the requests of each and every resident. Two of Marilyn’s friends were widowed shortly before Pesach and they were both dreading Seder night. Marilyn recalls: “We were all supposed to sit by ourselves, but I asked the manager if he could make an exception for these two friends so that they could join us for Seder. They organized a longer table so that they could sit at a distance but join in the reading of the Haggadah with us. They understood how difficult it would be for them to be alone.”
Since Pesach, the atmosphere in the home has been becoming more relaxed. Now visitors who have negative corona test results can visit their relatives in their own apartments. Life with corona means that nothing is certain, but the management of Beit Tovei HaIr are planning to celebrate Rosh Hashanah and the Chagim with services and social functions for their residents.
Empty apartments in Beit Tovei Ha’Ir may be available for rental during September. Please contact Tamar for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org