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How to Make Charoset: The Perfect Last Bite for Passover

Sweet apples, toasted walnuts and spicy cinnamon make Charoset the perfect last bite to any meal. However, it’s traditionally served during Passover. If you’re unfamiliar with this joyous spring holiday, the celebration of Passover commemorates the freeing of the Jews from slavery under the Egyptian pharaoh as told in the Book of Exodus. Passover usually lasts between seven and eight days and begins with ritual feasts known as seders. During seder, families gather to retell the heroic story of how the Israelites escaped from Egypt, while enjoying symbolic foods like Charoset. Why Charoset is symbolic to Passover is a little more complicated. Some believe that Charoset represents the mortar that the Jews used to build Egyptian buildings. Others believe it refers to a sacred fruit plant mentioned in the Song of Songs and the Talmud. Either way, Charoset is an on-going tradition and we’re glad to hear it! Here is how we make delicious Charoset at the JCHC communities in New Jersey. 

Ingredients for Charoset:

  • 3 apples peeled and chopped
  • ½ cup walnuts (finely chopped and toasted with oil or clarified butter)
  • 2 tablespoons sweet red wine 
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Optional: matzo crackers and/or honey

Charoset Recipe Directions:

  1. The key to this dish is toasting the walnuts. Toss the walnuts in olive oil or clarified butter before toasting. This next part is optional and depends on your taste, but you could add salt or cinnamon before toasting as well. After the walnuts have been tossed and seasoned, add them to a skillet and toast over medium-heat until they are browned and fragrant.
  2. Once the walnuts are toasted to perfection, add them to a large mixing bowl with your chopped apples and wine. Then, sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon over top and toss to combine. 
  3. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. If desired, serve with matzo crackers and/or honey to bind the spread and give it a sweeter taste. 

Culinary Excellence at Lester Senior Living in Morris County

Here at the Lester Senior Living Community, we understand how good nutrition plays a big part in maintaining an active senior lifestyle. We equally understand that the way our food tastes is just as important! Our culinary trained chefs in Morris County take pride in curating delicious and unique dishes that cater to every dietary preference, from kosher, vegetarian, low-carb options, and more. 

For more information about senior dining options in Morris County, NJ, please contact Lester Senior Living today: (973) 929-2725. You could also visit our website to learn more about what it’s like to live in a JCHC senior community: https://jchcorp.org/assisted-living-morris-county-nj/

 

Employee Appreciation Day: Meet Our Assisted Living Team!

It’s Employee Appreciation Day and we’d like to give “Ah groisen dank” (a big thanks) to all of our staff members throughout the Jewish Community Housing Corporation. All of our residents are in the right hands, thanks to your hard work, dedication and compassion. A special shoutout is in order for a few outstanding staff members from the Lester Senior Living community. If we had to describe the staff at Lester Senior Living in particular, it would be that they are a team that doesn’t really stick to titles or positions. They aren’t afraid to pitch in with tasks that are outside their comfort zone. Every department provides a helping hand to one another which is truly an incredible thing to see. Without further ado, let us introduce a few (of the many) wonderful staff members from the Lester Senior Living community in Morris County, NJ. 

Nettie Leander – LPN/Medical Secretary

Nettie is dedicated, enthusiastic and truly our ‘go to’ person. Nettie is the true definition of a “Universal Worker.” She dances with the residents, shares health knowledge wherever needed and goes above and beyond for our residents and family members.

Sergio Serrano Perez- Wait Staff

Sergio is loved by everyone. He crosses over in so many departments and never hesitates to jump right in. The residents think the world of him as he not only focuses on exemplary dining service, but also socializing and adding to their day in the most meaningful of ways.

Ann Marie Bass- Concierge Service Manager, Lester Independent Living

What can I say about Ann Marie? She is everything! Why? Because she truly does it all. When it comes to customer service she covers all ends of the spectrum, from returning calls promptly to making sure every resident makes the most out of their assisted living experience with JCHC. 

Keisha McDonald – Community Life Coordinator

Keisha makes all the magic happen for our assisted living residents in Morris County! She really goes the extra mile to keep our residents social, engaged and entertained. We swear she never runs out of ideas for fun! Not to mention, Keisha manages to do this while keeping residents safe from COVID-19. She truly is a rockstar and we’re all so lucky to have her! 

Join the Fun at Lester Senior Living in Morris County, NJ

Lester Senior Living is part of the Jewish Community Housing Corporation, a collection of senior living communities in New Jersey that help engage a fun, safe and active lifestyle for seniors.

During COVID-19, we’re not only working hard to keep your loved ones safe and healthy, we’re also doing all we can to keep them social! If you’d like to find out more about our senior activities and care services in Morris County, NJ, give us a call today: (973) 929-2725. Or you could visit our website to learn more about community life at Lester Senior Living: https://jchcorp.org/activities-for-seniors-nj/

Yoga for Seniors: Try Out a Class at JCHC

Yoga is ideal for seniors seeking to relieve stress and clear their mind. Regular practice will not only improve balance and mobility, but it may also help ease back pain, relieve depression, and even reduce blood pressure for older adults with hypertension. It’s important to note that improving balance and mobility will directly impact a senior’s likelihood of falling. The more agile you are, the less likely you are to fall – it’s really that simple. So, what are you waiting for? Now is the time to try out yoga! If you’re not sure what type of yoga to start with, don’t worry – the team at the Jewish Community Housing Corporation has put together a list of the 3 most popular types of yoga for seniors. 

Chair Yoga 

This beginner yoga class is best for seniors just starting out, or seniors with injuries, chronic conditions or who have trouble balancing. The chair allows you to perform yoga poses while sitting or standing. Some classes may lead with chair poses exclusively, but many beginner-friendly classes will let you choose whether or not to use the chair for each pose.

Senior chair yoga classes at Lester Senior Living are led daily by our activity assistant, Kendra Asfor. Pictured on the right are Frances Goroll (front) and Gertrude Perlman (back), assisted living residents who regularly participate in chair yoga at Lester. This picture was from Frances’ 100th birthday – she actually led the class that day! Frances exercises daily and says it helps keep her going. 

If you are interested in taking senior yoga classes at our assisted living building in Morris County, NJ, please contact Lester Senior Living today. 

Restorative Yoga 

Restorative yoga classes focus more on stress relief and relaxation, rather than moving from one pose to another. This type of yoga is recommended for seniors recovering from an injury. Poses in this class are held for a longer period of time in order to strengthen the injured area, as well as to relax your mind. Using objects like yoga blocks, cushions and straps will help support your body in all restorative yoga poses. 

Hatha Yoga

“Hatha” refers to the standard practice of yoga. In general, you can expect a hatha yoga class to be basic with slower movements that pair breathing exercises with postures. It’s more active than restorative yoga, so it is recommended for seniors who have had a little experience with yoga already. With that said, most hatha yoga instructors expect to have all different types of “yogis” attend with various experience levels. They should provide appropriate modifications for each experience level. However, it’s important to call the fitness center in question ahead of time to make sure the hatha class can suit your needs. 

Active Senior Living in Morris County, New Jersey

All of the JCHC senior communities in New Jersey have experienced staff members on-site to help support and engage the most active lifestyle for each resident. We strive to provide a variety of fitness options, so all residents have the chance to enjoy and take charge of their health and wellness. 

Have you been wanting to try yoga? Head down to the fitness center for a chair yoga class in our Lester Senior Living building. Our instructors take the time to modify the class for each resident’s fitness level and provide essential one-on-one support when needed. Not to mention, we love to have fun and try new poses weekly! 

For more information on all of our senior activities, please visit our website at: https://jchcorp.org/activities-for-seniors-nj/

 

What is Purim and How is it Celebrated?

While many Jewish holidays have pretty serious religious underpinnings, Purim, coming up on February 25th, is one of the most joyous and fun of the Jewish holidays. It’s a little bit of Mardi Gras, Passover, and Halloween all rolled into one. Traditions of this holiday include giving care packages to those in need and baking delicious Jewish staples. But how did these traditions emerge? What exactly is Purim? 

The Origin of Purim

The story of Purim commemorates the events that took place in the Bible: Book of Esther. The protagonists of the story are Esther and her cousin Mordecai who raised her as if she was his own daughter. Esther was a young and beautiful Jewish woman living in Persia. She was taken to the King of Persia, Ahasuerus, who immediately took a liking to her. So much so, that he made Esther queen. However, the king did not know an important part of Esther’s identity. She hid her Judaism from him per her cousin Mordecai’s advice. 

The antagonist, or villain, of the story is Haman. He’s the smug and self-absorbed advisor to King Ahasuerus. Haman decided he wanted to destroy all Jewish people just because Mordecai wouldn’t bow down to him. He told the king, “There are certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your realm. Their laws are different from those of every other person’s, and they do not observe the king’s laws; therefore, it is not befitting the king to tolerate them.” Esther 3:8. Since he was the king’s trusted advisor, Ahasuerus decided Haman could move forward with whatever plot he had in mind. When Mordecai found out about Haman’s evil plans, he persuaded Esther to speak to the king in order to save the Jewish people. To prepare herself for an unpredictable outcome from the king, Esther fasted for three days before going to speak to him. 

Luckily, the king welcomed Esther with open arms and she decided it was the right time to reveal her true identity. Later, she told him of Haman’s evil plan against her people. Because of Esther’s bravery, the Jewish people were saved.

Celebrating Purim at Lester Senior Living

Purim is preceded by a minor fast, the Fast of Esther, which commemorates Esther’s three days of fasting in preparation for meeting with the king. The primary commandment related to Purim is to hear the reading of the book of Esther, which we read to our residents every year. While listening to this reading, it is custom to boo, hiss, stamp one’s feet and rattle noisemakers whenever Haman’s name is mentioned in the service. After all, he is the bad guy.

But arguably the most fun way to commemorate this holiday is to eat, drink and be happy! If you are looking for a sweet treat to make for Purim, check out our signature recipe for Hamantaschen cookies: https://jchcorp.org/how-to-make-delicious-hamantaschen-cookies-before-purim/. These delicious triangular fruit-filled cookies are supposed to represent Haman’s three-cornered hat. In addition, Jewish people are commanded to share these treats with others or make donations to charity, also known as shalach manos (lit. sending out portions). 

If you’d like to know more about how we are celebrating Purim at Lester Senior Living, or have any other questions regarding our senior care services, please contact us today. We’d love to hear from you. 

How to Make Delicious Hamantaschen Cookies Before Purim

For many Jewish families, Purim wouldn’t be complete without Hamantaschen or the “triangle cookies” that are a traditional part of the holiday. These staple cookies are so simple to make once you gather the right ingredients. Not to mention, you can fill the center pockets of each cookie with whatever filling you like! For this recipe, we decided to alternate between apricot preserves, raspberry jam and Nutella. Without further ado, here is Jewish Community Housing Corporation’s signature recipe for Hamantaschen cookies!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups margarine or butter
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • Fillings: apricot jam, Nutella, Raspberry Jam
  • Baking sheet 
  • 3 in. round cookie cutter
  • Confectioners’ sugar (optional)

Prep Time: 30 mins (if dough is prepped ahead of time)
Cook Time: 15 mins

Directions:

  1. Begin by mixing the sugar and margarine together. Then, add eggs and mix together until the mixture is smooth. Once smooth, stir in water and vanilla extract. Next, add flour, and continue mixing until the dough forms a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for a couple hours before baking.

  2. Heat oven to 375 F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/8-in. thickness. Start to cut pieces with your floured cookie cutter. Place 1 teaspoon apricot, raspberry  or Nutella filling in the center of each piece of dough. Bring 3 edges together over filling, overlapping slightly (a small portion of filling should show in the center) and then pinch edges gently. Place each cookie 1 in. apart on an ungreased baking sheet.

  3. Bake in the oven for about 12-15 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Using a spatula, carefully remove the cookies from the baking sheet and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Lightly dust each cookie with confectioners’ sugar (if desired) and enjoy!

    Bonus tip: If you are not eating the cookies immediately or want to save them for another day, store them in an air-tight container for maximum freshness.


Can’t be bothered to bake? 

At Lester Senior Living, our chefs are always baking something. For more information about senior living activities in Morris County, NJ, please contact JCHC: Lester Senior Living today: (973) 929-2725. You could also visit our website to learn more about what community life is really like in Morris County, NJ: https://jchcorp.org/assisted-living-morris-county-nj/