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Seders to serve hundreds at NewBridge on the Charles

Posted by Michele Morgan Bolton  March 26, 2010 10:48 AM

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Preparations are in full swing for dozens of seder dinners next week as hundreds of senior citizens gather with members of their families to share their first Passover meal together at NewBridge on the Charles.

In total, the new Hebrew SeniorLife continuing care retirement community in Dedham will host more than 40 seders during the first two days of Passover on Monday and Tuesday, commemorating the liberation of the ancient Israelites from four centuries of enslavement in Egypt.

One of the dinners, which is expected to draw more than 150 people in the complex's independent living center, is believed to be one of the largest such religious gatherings in the Boston area, according to NewBridge marketing director Ruth Stark.

"There is nothing like a Passover seder to bring together new friends and family,'' Stark said. "It's the kind of holiday you want to share with others."

NewBridge is not a strictly Jewish housing development and residents of other faiths are welcomed to participate as well, she said: "This is a wonderful community and it's so much more than just a place to live."

The holiday dinners will begin at sundown on each day. Two gatherings in the independent living center will involve 152 and 120 people, respectively, Stark said. In addition to the main seders, each of the 18 households in the Health Care Center will host a seder on the first two nights of Passover, and there will be seders for assisted living residents as well.

Amassing the ingredients and preparing the ritualistic meals is a logistical challenge, she acknowledged. The dining staff will use 120 bottles of Manischewitz wine, and residents will consume more than 300 boxes of matzah, the unleavened bread served at the dinner.

Further, officials said, a NewBridge resident taught the health complex's chef how to make charoset, a traditional Passover dish made of crushed nuts, apples, cinnamon, and wine -- and hundreds of pounds of it will be served at the seder dinners.

The 1 million-square-foot intergenerational housing and service center on the 162–acre Hebrew SeniorLife Campus off Common Street opened in June.

Michele Morgan Bolton can be reached at mmbolton1@verizon.net.

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