More than a hundred seniors celebrate Hanukkah in La Jolla during intergenerational celebration

More than 100 older adults attended an intergenerational Hanukkah celebration at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center in La Jolla on Wednesday.

Guests watched preschool students from the Jewish Community Center perfom and ate a lunch that included fried latkes, a potato pancake traditionally served for Hanukkah meals. They also received care packages filled with items to celebrate at home, including candles to fill the hanukkiah, the nine-candle Hanukkah menorah.

The luncheon was not only intergenerational, but an interfaith one, as well, with members of Horizon Church and non-religious seniors also attending.

CEO Betzy Lynch serves meals during a Hanukkah celebration at The Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center on Wednesday in San Diego.

(Eduardo Contreras / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

To Betzy Lynch, the center’s CEO, bringing a diverse group of people together to celebrate Hanukkah is especially important given the pandemic, war in Ukraine and increases in anti-Semitic attacks around the world in recent years.

“Unfortunately over the last several years, the world has been a dark place and the meaning of Hanukkah in moments like this is important,” Lynch said. “The way you light a hanukkiah, you add a light each day so that as you culminate the holiday, we’re bringing as much light into the world as possible.”

Among Wednesday’s guests were a group of Holocaust survivors, including Rose Schindler, who was brought from Ukraine to Auschwitz at age 14. In an interview during Wednesday’s luncheon, she spoke of how she, her parents and her seven siblings were brought to the infamous concentration camp, and her fight for survival while imprisoned there.

“My mother and four children went to one line, which is straight into the gas chamber, and I never saw them again” said Schindler, who turns 93 Dec. 28. “Nobody can believe what we went through. The whole world just stood by, nobody tried to help us.”

a woman lights a menorah during a luncheon

Senior director Melanie Rubin lights candles for a menorah during a Hanukkah celebration at The Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center on Wednesday.

(Eduardo Contreras / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The event was in part possible due to a $3,000 grant from the San Diego Seniors Community Foundation, a local nonprofit that raises funds to support other senior care-oriented organizations.

Through its No Senior Alone campaign, SDSCF aims to ensure that seniors in the region aren’t socially isolated, especially around the holiday season.

“During the holidays, that’s one of the loneliest times for a senior,” said Kristoffer Kelly, SDSCF director of partnerships. “Throwing these parties throughout the county, we get to engage the community and get new older adults — who may have just recently been widowed, maybe they just moved here or they never had kids — to the senior center to meet new friends and have a holiday meal.”

In total, SDSCF granted $90,095 to 22 organizations this year to host Thanksgiving and winter holiday events at 26 different locations throughout San Diego County. The funding supported events at a variety of organizations, including Borrego Senior Center, Fourth District Senior Center, the LGBTQ Community Center and San Diego American Indian Health Center.

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