The week between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is the holiest time of year for Jews, and is known as the High Holy Days. However, not everyone is physically able to make it to a synagogue for services to celebrate the holidays.
Recognizing that need, the rabbis and cantors from Central Synagogue of Nassau County have been holding special services at the Maple Pointe Assisted Living Facility for years.
“I felt that this was a way to celebrate Shabbat that would be truly in the spirit of Shabbat, of giving and sharing,” said Louise Skolnick, who led a Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur service at Maple Pointe on Sept. 18. “And it’s an exhilarating experience.”
Skolnick said that there are many people from Central Synagogue who donate their time on a rotating basis to perform a Shabbat service for the residents of Maple Pointe. The service is a little shorter than the standard Shabbat service — about 45 minutes long — but includes all of the important parts of the service.
The residents of Maple Pointe are able to gather in the facility’s movie theater for the service, which often reminds them of their pasts.
“It’s interesting how some of these folks can be pretty much out of it, and when I start to sing, suddenly they’re there, front and center,” said Holly Minott, who helps run the services. “I can’t tell you how many people came up to me and said, ‘Thank you. You made me think of my grandmother. You made me think of my childhood.’ I know that I made deep connections with these folks.”
The decade of performing services at Maple Pointe has also led to some of the residents there joining Central Synagogue. “Last week, two of the ladies here who weren’t going to be with family, came over and shared Rosh Hashanah with us,” said Barbara Prins, who has been performing services at Maple Pointe for many years.
The people of Central Synagogue who perform the weekly service are very serious about it. In fact, in the decade or so they have been performing services, they’ve only missed two weeks: one when a member of the service was sick and they weren’t allowed to enter the facility, and the second last year when Maple Pointe closed because of a burst pipe that flooded the building.
“[My husband] Richard and I came with three feet of snow out there one Friday,” Skolnick said. “We take this very seriously. And it’s part of the mission of Central Synagogue to reach out into the community, as well as reach into its congregation. We see this as an extension of our synagogue.”
And it isn’t just the residents of Maple Pointe that benefit from the weekly services.
“Whatever we do, it is so appreciated,” said Skolnick. “And I know, every single time I walk out of here on Friday afternoons, I’m uplifted. So it is very special.”