In the spirit of Purim, celebrated this year on Friday, February 26, the BACH Jewish Center in Long Beach will be delivering 100 holiday-themed care packages to the residents of the local Grandell Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. The group chose the number 100 to symbolize its growing membership, which has jumped by more than ten percent amid the pandemic. As part of the project, each synagogue member family will connect to the holiday traditions of sending food packages to neighbors (Mishloach Manos) and giving charity (Matanos LaEvyonim).
Rabbi Benny Berlin, who leads the synagogue, will hand-deliver the packages on the morning of the holiday in a socially distanced manner, along with personalized cards from the BACH community members and their children. In a recent educational program for children, Rabbi Berlin spoke about the importance of celebrating the holiday with the right intentions. He then helped the synagogue’s youth create handwritten cards with special messages for the senior residents of the Grandell, many of whom are Jewish. The cards include holiday wishes as well as drawings to help bring holiday cheer to the seniors for Purim – delivered along with traditional holiday treats in the food packages.
“I hope next year we can bring presents to you in person,” wrote one nine-year-old. “Have a happy Purim!” wrote a five-year-old, who included a drawing of a happy face and hearts.
On the morning of the holiday, Rabbi Berlin will deliver the packages, filled with hamantashen cookies, chocolates, and grape juice, to staffers from the Grandell, who will then distribute the packages internally to residents along with the cards. The method was chosen in order to comply with COVID-19 health and safety guidance.
“Purim is centered on joy and celebration, and part of that is providing joy for others,” said Rabbi Benny Berlin. “At a time when many seniors are feeling isolated due to the effects of the pandemic, we as a community felt that this was the perfect outlet for giving back and reflecting on the spirit of this holiday. We hope our efforts can bring a smile to the faces of the residents at the Grandell in the same way it brought meaningful smiles to ours.”