Holiday Celebrations for All

082-webPeople living with developmental disabilities or mental illness often face the challenge of social isolation, and at holidays, that isolation can feel even more pronounced. Sha’arei Tikvah: Celebrations for All holds four annual gatherings to make sure all people have a way to celebrate the Jewish holidays in community. These events are designed to be welcoming for people of all ages and abilities and include services adapted for the audience and holiday foods.

Many attendees are regulars, bringing family and friends with them. Longtime participant Dave Gladstein explains, “I look forward to seeing my friends and getting to talk to other people at these events.” These occasions also give staff and community members an opportunity to bring their spouses, kids and friends, making this a familial experience. “It’s really nice to get a chance to spend time with clients when it’s not all about business,” elaborates Case Manager Sonja Adams. “It gives us time to talk and strengthen our relationships.”

Cross-community cultural events like the Sha’arei Tikvah celebrations are rare for this population. Beyond giving people a chance to mingle, the gatherings also provide an opportunity for people to connect with their Jewish roots. The Purim costumes and play at a recent celebration piqued Gladstein’s interest in the holiday, so he connected with Rabbi Aaron Meyer to learn more.

For Gladstein, Sha’arei Tikvah and the support he receives from JFS are part of a full life that includes a job receiving shipments at a local café, regular trips to Gameworks and the gym, cheering on the Seahawks and seeing friends, many of whom he has met at Shabbats over the years.

Sha’arei Tikvah is part of a larger program that aims to raise the quality of life for its participants.

ByBirnbaum.V Jenelle Birnbaum
Violinist, hiker and all-around arts nerd Jenelle Birnbaum is the Marketing Coordinator at JFS. Outside of that, she enjoys speaking French and vegan cooking.

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