During the holidays, several United Church Homes communities come together to celebrate different traditions to help bridge the gap between cultures and create a greater sense of unity. At The Glenwood Community, their annual Hanukkah celebration allows residents and staff to experience deeper connections as they learn about another faith and culture.
“The message of Hanukkah applies to everybody,” said Peter Donlon, Director of Community Life at The Glenwood Community. “Light over darkness. One small little flame can dispel a lot of darkness. There is a strong desire for our residents and staff members to understand one another better, learn from each other and ensure everyone feels welcome in our community.”
Glenwood residents celebrated various Hanukkah traditions with staff. From playing dreidel and sampling potato latkes and sufganiyot (jelly donuts) to hearing the story of the Maccabees and singing Jewish songs, both Jewish and non-Jewish residents enjoyed these traditions firsthand. “For some of our residents and staff, this is the first time they’ve experienced a Hanukkah celebration. It’s one thing for someone to read or hear about Hanukkah, but it’s powerful to see residents experience the traditions,” commented Donlon.
“These types of events support a greater sense of community,” said Donlon. “As we share, they ask questions. Those questions lead to deeper conversations, and those conversations lead to connections. Celebrating Hanukkah together opens a new avenue for our residents to learn from each other, engage with one another and create a more welcoming, inclusive environment.”
Residents are eager to continue the tradition of sharing and celebrating the diversity of their community throughout the year. “Being inclusive and supportive of different religions and cultures is at the heart of United Church Homes’ mission,” said Donlon. “Our Hanukkah celebration opens the door for residents to continue these conversations year-round.”