P. Elayne Poston, Handmaker VP of Operations, attended her first ever Israel Festival at the Tucson Jewish Community Center on April 30. It was a wonderful introduction to the Tucson Jewish Community. She met so many people and had her very first taste of falafel too! Elayne was joined by several other Handmaker staff members; Angela Salmon (Activity Department Director and Adventure Bus Coordinator), Jennifer Ladd Ono (Administrative and Volunteer Coordinator), Rachel Dorf (Human Resource Director), Julie Wakefield (Receptionist), and Nanci Levy (Community Outreach Coordinator) who all had great fun seeing old friends and new, and handing out the delicious Handmaker-made blue and white cookies.
This was the first of so many opportunities for our community to come together over the last month, and Handmaker was happy to be a part of much of it!
On May 2, Handmaker hosted the third Jewish Ecosystem of Southern Arizona meeting in the Handmaker Great Room. About 37 representatives from organizations across Southern Arizona gathered to catch up with one another, get updates on the Ecosystem Workgroups, learn about Relationship Based Engagement, and come together in their efforts to ensure a strong and vibrant Jewish Community into the future.
Handmaker residents who attended the end of the year celebration of the Better Together Intergenerational Program, on May 7 at Handmaker got a glimpse of the future of Tucson’s Jewish Community in the faces of Tucson Hebrew Academy (THA) and B’nai B’rith Youth Organization teens. These teens have been coming to Handmaker throughout the school year as participants in this wonderful Better Together-funded program. This celebration gave them an opportunity to meet some of the participants’ family members, and watch a slide show recapping the program year. They also had the opportunity to listen to the Better Together Writing Contest winners read their beautiful and moving essays about their experiences with this program, and hear some of the Handmaker residents talk about how important this program was for them, and how much they looked forward to visiting with the teens each month. Handmaker is grateful to Emily Ellentuck from THA and Libby Bacal from BBYO for applying for and managing these grants, and residents look forward to the teens visiting again in the fall when this program starts up again.
On May 10, a group of Handmaker residents went Out and About to the Jewish History Museum. There they were welcomed by Jewish History Museum Executive Director, Lori Shepherd, and given a tour of the museum by Docent Davya Cohen. The residents learned a lot about the Jewish men and women who helped found and shape Nogales, Douglas, Tucson, and Phoenix, and about an incredible woman, Rose Silver, the second woman to graduate from the UA School of Law. Although they have been to the museum on many occasions, there always seems to be something new and interesting to see and read about.
Rabbi Malcolm Cohen of Kol Ami visited Handmaker on May 18 to meet residents, sing a bit, and talk about the upcoming Jewish holiday of Shavuot. Rabbi Cohen also told them about the upcoming all-night community Tikkun Leil Shavuot study session that he is participating in at the Tucson Jewish Community Center. Residents enjoyed meeting him and look forward to future visits. They are also looking forward to making and eating cheesecake next week and studying at their (earlier and shorter) Tikkun Leil Shavuot with Mel Cohen and Dan Asia at Handmaker.
With so many opportunities to connect and engage, Handmaker is grateful to be a part of this vibrant community. Chag Sameach!