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5 Influential Jewish Personalities Born in April

There seem to be two major traits that Jewish people in the entertainment world have: the comedy gene and the music gene. We often don’t realize how true this is, until you start to look at famous TV, film and music personalities. You may come to discover that a majority of your favorite actors, actresses and musicians are of Jewish descent. The team at the Jewish Community Housing Corporation (JCHC) would like to take this time to honor just a few of our favorite, influential Jewish entertainers that were born in the month of April. 

Robert Downey Jr. (April 4th)

It’s only right to start with Marvel legend, Robert Downey Jr. Although he’s been in the acting industry for decades, he really gained critical acclaim after nailing his leading role in 2008 as Iron Man. In the same year, he was also named as one of the most influential people by Time Magazine. Most importantly, he’s one of the best examples of how it’s never too late to turn your life around. Everyone who knows his story really appreciates his transparency about his past drug issues and how he credits multiple avenues for his continued sobriety, including family support, rehabilitation, and even yoga. 

Paul Rudd (April 6th)

Next on our list, one of the most famous New Jersey natives: Paul Rudd – who might I add, doesn’t seem to age? His breakout performance in the 1995 teen movie Clueless really put him on the map. He then went on to star in multiple comedies like Anchorman, This Is 40, I Love You Man and the superhero franchise Ant-Man. I think what we love most about Paul is his sarcastic sense of humor and how down to earth he still is. Although he moved to Kansas City when he was 10, most of his early movies took place in New Jersey or New York to honor his roots.

Sarah Michelle Geller (April 14th)

We can’t forget America’s favorite vampire slayer: Sarah Michelle Geller. She is best known for her roles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Swans Crossing, Cruel Intentions, the live-action Scooby Doo and All My Children, which won her an Emmy. Her conscious choice to play strong and independent women is definitely her mark on the world. It’s also so sweet that her and Scooby Doo co-star, Freddie Prinze Jr, have been together for over 20 years – one of Hollywood’s most successful love stories!

Barbra Streisand (April 24th)

In short, Barbra Streisand does it all. She’s a successful singer, actress, director, producer, and the only person who’s ever received all of the following prestigious awards: Oscar, Tony, Emmy, Grammy, Golden Globe, Cable Ace, National Endowment for the Arts, Peabody awards, the Kennedy Center Honor, American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement honor and the Film Society of Lincoln Center Chaplin Award. One major reason why she is so admired is that she comes from modest beginnings. As a child, she was raised by a middle-class family and attended the Beis Yakov Jewish School in Brooklyn. She grew up dreaming of becoming an actress. It’s safe to say, she followed that dream and then some!

Jerry Seinfeld (April 29th)

This list wouldn’t be complete without comedy legend: Jerry Seinfeld. He credits his comedy gene to his father, Kalman Seinfeld who was a commercial sign maker of Jewish descent. Jerry paved his own way with his observational humor, that often draws from real-life experiences. His long-running sitcom, Seinfeld, essentially depicts the hilarities of everyday life, like getting into a petty argument with the barista who makes your coffee in the morning or forgetting your date’s name. The show was (and still is) so popular because it reflects this situational sense of humor that so many people relate to.

Lester Senior Living treats regular folks like celebrities. 

Whether you are retiring from a long career in movies, or you’re a fan and just want to be somewhere safe and fun, the Lester Senior Living Community is a good choice. While we incorporate Jewish traditions at all of our senior living communities in New Jersey, we have residents from many faiths and every walk of life. They come to us for the upscale, active lifestyle that our team works very hard to provide. From active discussion groups and online seminars to kosher meal options and holiday celebrations like Purim, we are honored to represent Judaism in a lot of what we do, while making everyone feel at home.

To learn more about Jewish senior living in New Jersey, contact JCHC today or visit our website at: https://jchcorp.org/independent-living-new-jersey/

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/

 

American Heart Month: Tips to Avoid Heart Disease

American Heart Month, a federally recognized event, is a great reminder for Americans to focus on their hearts. Heart awareness in a time of  COVID-19 seems particularly important. Simply put, there is no better time to prioritize our health and the health of our senior family members. Simple lifestyle changes can not only prevent heart disease, but can also strengthen the possibility of living longer with a much healthier heart. Our assisted living team in Morris County, NJ has gathered vital information regarding heart disease risk factors and tips to prevent this all too common disease.  

Risk Factors of Heart Disease 

Despite years and even decades of hearing how smoking and being obese can ruin your heart health, too many americans are not getting the message. Yet it turns out that many of the risk factors below can be managed with smart and relatively simple changes to your lifestyle. 

Common risk factors include:

    • Smoking
    • Diabetes
    • Physical inactivity and obesity
    • Alcohol, caffeine and substance abuse
    • High blood pressure or cholesterol levels
    • High levels of stress and anxiety 
    • Ethnicity and family history 
    • Age and gender 

Heart Disease Prevention: Tips for Healthy Senior Living 

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you set out on your journey to live a heart healthy life.

  • Maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol. Higher levels of blood pressure and cholesterol mean your heart is being overworked. One of the first steps you can take to maintain a healthy heart is to have healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Make an appointment with your primary physician to determine what levels are considered healthy for you, since your levels depend on your unique risk factors and heart history.

  • Make healthy lifestyle choices and stick to them. Exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy diet is key. Cut out smoking and foods that are high in saturated fat content, like processed meats. Here at Lester Senior Living, we have many senior exercise classes available (chair yoga, anyone?) and offer low-cal, low-fat dining options 7 days a week. Visit our website to learn more about what we offer at the Lester Senior Living community.

  • Combat stress head-on. Stress that goes unmanaged is a serious risk factor for heart disease. It’s also something that is often overlooked or confused with another medical condition. If you have significant trouble managing stress and anxiety, we recommend speaking to a medical professional as soon as possible.

  • Have regular check ups. Most people don’t want to visit the doctor without a reason but having yearly checkups and blood work is one of the best things you can do for preventative maintenance on your heart. As we get older, we may accept many of our aches and pains but they may sometimes be the harbinger of something else. If you catch it early, you will be much better off.

Assisted Living Care Services in Morris County, NJ 

At Lester Senior Living, having caregivers on-site around the clock, means your senior family member can get the extra help they need immediately. We have one of the best ratios of staff to residents in the industry, which means we never skimp on care. Our senior living residents also have direct access to certified specialists on-site, such as physicians, therapists and other wellness providers that can manage the medical complications that come with heart disease. 

If you have any questions about our care services, or if you’d like to see if our senior community is the right fit for your loved one, please contact Lester Senior Living today: (973) 929-2725. You could also visit our website for more information on assisted living in Morris County, NJ: https://jchcorp.org/assisted-living-morris-county-nj/

 

JCHC Honors National Holocaust Remembrance Day

Today, January 27, 2021, we remember all 6 million Jewish victims of the Holocaust and the 11 million additional innocent victims of the Nazi regime. We are also commemorating the brave stories of Holocaust survivors. During the Holocaust, small acts of courage were a matter of life and death. The strength to stand up for what was right when all felt hopeless is the legacy of the survivors. Now more than ever, the Jewish Community Housing Corporation feels it is our responsibility to keep these stories of survival alive, especially for our residents who were survivors themselves. Here are some of the ways in which we will commemorate this day.

Survival Stories from JCHC Residents

January 27th marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. The United Nations designated this day to honor the memory of Europe’s Jews and others who were targeted by the Nazi regime. As this day means so much to our organization, we only felt it was right to capture the real-life experiences of residents who lived through the Holocaust. Their powerful stories of strength and courage deserve to be heard and remembered for years to come. To watch the emotional interviews, follow our Facebook pages as we will be posting their recollections throughout the day.

Follow Jewish Community Housing Corporation on Facebook.
Follow Lester Senior Living on Facebook.
Follow Village Apartments on Facebook. 

#WeRemember: International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2021 Virtual Ceremony 

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum will mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day with two digital events. While the museum is closed due to COVID-19, this day cannot be postponed. #WeRemember at 9:30 am will begin with Susan Eisenhower, discussing her grandfather, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, and his prediction that people would one day deny that the Holocaust took place.

Following this, the Museum’s annual commemoration at 1pm will feature Holocaust survivors and leaders, who will explain how important it is to preserve the lessons and truth of the Holocaust. Since the museum’s opening in 1993, they have showcased the true recollections of Holocaust survivors every year. Their stories continue to remind us to confront hatred head-on and defend the truth today, and every day. 

To watch the virtual ceremony in full, please visit this link: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLWQC3P4psZP763jsXRI-DfX0ppJ5M-pdU

How You Can Get Involved 

“No thief, however skillful, can rob one of knowledge, and that is why knowledge is the best and safest treasure to acquire.” – L. Frank Baum. It’s as simple as sharing the stories with others, while also learning about what really happened during the Holocaust. History can repeat itself, if we do not remember or learn from it. One easy way to get involved is to repost the interviews from our senior living residents on social media. When reposting, make sure to use the hashtags: #WeRemember and #HolocaustRemembranceDay to keep the stories alive and circulating throughout the world. You just never know whose life you could change with the power of information.

To learn more about the core values of our senior living communities in Morris and Essex County, NJ, please visit our website at: https://jchcorp.org/