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Rochester families celebrate Rosh Hashanah with parade at Jewish senior center

Sep 17, 2020

Friday marks the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, and some families are finding ways to celebrate together, even when they have to be apart. It’s a day that Gail Wolk celebrates every year with relatives.

Families and members of the Jewish community formed a parade outside of the Jewish Senior Life center on Winton Avenue in Rochester.
Credit photo provided by Jewish Senior Life

“It’s having everyone together and talking about all different things and laughing,” said Wolk. “It’s just family.”

This year is different as loved ones can’t gather because of the coronavirus. Wolk’s mother, who has Alzheimer's, has already been confused by the changes since the pandemic began. New York state has put restrictions on visitations to nursing homes like the Jewish Senior Life center, where her mother lives.

“We get a fifteen-minute window visit,” she said. “It takes my mother maybe ten of those fifteen minutes to understand why I can’t come into her apartment,” 

So, with social distancing in mind, on the day before Rosh Hashana, Wolk and others formed a parade outside of the senior center. Horns honk, cowbells rattle. A rabbi blows the shofar, a ram’s horn that signals the new year, repentance, and inner reflection.

Residents of the Jewish Senior Life center gather on the sidewalk for the Rosh Hashanah parade on Thursday.
Credit provided by Jewish Senior Life

"I would love to do more but you can’t do more,” she said.

While the Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Wednesday that a COVID-19 vaccine may not be widely available until late 2021, possibly after next Rosh Hashanah, Wolk says that the best we can do is seek to be kinder in the new year.