Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, is always a welcome, bright spot as the days grow shorter and the nights chillier. Even here in Tucson, where the nights are not quite as chilly as elsewhere this time of year.
The Hanukkah celebrations started early this year at Handmaker. Residents had a chance to brush up on their dreidel playing and make Hanukkah cards at a virtual Hanukkah gathering with Tucson Hebrew Academy (THA) and BBYO teens on December 11. Residents of the Tynan Neighborhood warmed up with a visit from Rabbi Barbara Penzner, whose father-in-law lives at Handmaker. Residents appreciated listening to the Hanukkah story that she told, her beautiful singing voice, and also enjoyed singing and sharing stories of holidays past with her and their neighbors. Thanks to David Weine and the wonderful Chesed group from Congregation Bet Shalom who connected with a group of Handmaker residents via Zoom at their monthly virtual tea party. During the gathering, David shared some of the recent Hanukkah musical parody videos that have been circulating, which brought smiles to their faces.
Celebrations during the week of Hanukkah will include visits from Rabbi Malcolm Cohen and Cantor Janece Cohen of Congregation Kol Ami, a holiday performance and visit with THA students, a musical performance by the Desert Melodies, and Christmas caroling and Hanukkah songs with Rachel and Maya Levy on Christmas Day. The Hanukkah candles will be lit in every Handmaker neighborhood every night, fresh latkes fried up in the Rubin Assisted Living Neighborhood at lunch, a special Brisket and Latke dinner on Hanukkah Shabbat for all, and holiday cookie decorating.
The only thing that will be missing from the Handmaker Hanukkah celebrations this year will be the presence of Rabbi Richard Safran, who passed away on Friday morning, December 2 at the age of 92. Even before he moved into Handmaker’s Rubin Assisted Living Neighborhood in February of 2019, Rabbi Safran was a part of the Handmaker community, visiting often as the Tucson Jewish Community Chaplain for more than a decade. Rabbi Safran was an integral part of every Jewish celebration while living at Handmaker, and touched so many lives with his kindness, wisdom and infectious laugh and smile. His beautiful light and warmth will be missed especially during this season. May his memory be a blessing.
Wishing you and your families a happy, light-filled, and healthy holiday season.