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WJCS Create Passover Tradition For Special Needs Individuals

Rabbi David Greenberg of Temple Shaaray Tefila in Bedford holds up the matzoh, the traditional Passover food. Photo Credit: WJCS
Laura Copel helps Amy Tell recite the blessing while lighting the candles at the start of the seder at Temple Shaaray Tefila in Bedford. Photo Credit: WJCS
Marci Mehler of Mamaroneck and Sheryl Fleishaker, a Beth El Synagogue volunteer, enjoyed sharing the Passover festivities at Beth El Synagogue in New Rochelle. Photo Credit: WJCS
After dinner at Beth El Synagogue in New Rochelle March 18, the crowd danced to the Klezmer music Photo Credit: WJCS
A delegation from the Westchester Klezmer Program entertained the crowd at Temple Shaaray Tefila in Bedford during the Passover festivities March 20. Photo Credit: WJCS
Co-chairs of the Beth El Synagogue seder, Ellen Gelboim and Sandy Gruenberg, greeted Warren Brodsky to the special seder. Photo Credit: WJCS

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - Westchester Jewish Community Serivces sponsored two seders for more than 300 guests with developmental and physical challenges, many of whom live in group homes where Jewish traditions aren't part of their daily life.

The seders were held at Beth El Synagouge in New Rochelle earlier this month and drew about 150 guests and 75 volunteers, and Temple Shaaray Tefila in Bedford Corners March 20, which drew about 160 guests and 75 volunteers.

“The guests and the volunteers all had a wonderful time," Gail Oliver, WJCS Havorah coordinator, said. "They had the opportunity to sing the songs they love, dance, eat traditional foods and share the experience with their friends and caregivers."

The WJCS Havorah program, which helps those with developmental disabilities experience Jewish life, has hosted these special seders for 26 years.

"The seders and the other Havorah programs provide the opportunity for Jewish persons with special needs to rejoice in their Judaism and be part of the greater Jewish community,” Oliver said.

Both seders included a musician from the Westchester Klezmer Program, who played a variety of Klezmer melodies and holiday tunes.

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