Nysha Recent News

Residents Enjoy Ladies’ Afternoon Out Celebrating the Festival of Lights, Right at Home

January 16, 2017      

By Mendy Hecht, Hamaspik Gazette

For Residents of Hamaspik’s 38th and South 9th Homes, the Chanukah Party’s in the House

Residents Enjoy Ladies’ Afternoon Out Celebrating the Festival of Lights, Right at Home

On the evening of the last Sunday in December, the second night of Chanukah was marked this past season.

All over New York—and indeed, all over the world—little lights twinkled in the windows and doorways of Jewish homes everywhere.

It was the Festival of Lights, the holiday celebrated to this day that marks the ancient miracle of the menorah that burned for eight days.

For eons, families have gathered around the lights, seeing the past and future at once in the dancing flames as they ate latkes, sang songs and reveled in the holiday’s glowing warmth.

And at 69 South 9th St. in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, two groups of young women and their loving staff gathered around, a veritable family of their own.

One group was the collective host—the residents and support professionals of the South 9th Shvesterheim Individualized Residential Alternative (IRA) under the leadership of Manager Mrs. Cziment and Assistant Manager Mrs. Walter.

The other group was their guests—their peers from the 38th St. Shvesterheim IRA, Hamaspik of Kings County’s second women’s residence, this one directed by Manager Mr. Israel Indig and Assistant Manager Mrs. Kasnett.

Together, they enjoyed not just a Hamaspik “family Chanukah party,” but a veritable indoor carnival replete with several clever and professionally-presented holiday-related activity booths planned by Mrs. Walter and staff days and weeks in advance for the enjoyment of all.

The party began at 2:00 p.m. with the arrival of the 38th St. “Shvesterheimers” in their Hamaspik Transport Vans.

As the young ladies streamed from the sidewalk through South 9th’s front door, excited squeals of delight followed by hugs ensued, as friends and peers greeted and embraced one another, some quite literally.  Staff also took the opportunity to say hello and catch up with each other, smiling as they stood off to the sides.

To “gain entry” to the party, each arrival had to receive a “security stamp”—a delightful inky imprint of a dreidel image on the back of each guest’s hand.

Guests were also handed small pom-poms and bags containing the holiday’s iconic dreidel spinning tops.  (Both would shortly come in handy.)

For the next three hours, the three-dozen-plus residents and staff made their way from booth to booth, trying their hands at such fun as picking dreidels out of giant tub of rice, “painting” dreidels with marshmallow fluff and candies, decorating dreidel cookies, or a “Pin the Gimmel on the Dreidel” blindfold game.

Prizes for winning at various booths included such goodies as chocolate “coins” (always popular come Chanukah!) and colored pencils.

The exciting carnival booth activities were followed by group activities—trying their hands at painting their own dreidels, making and baking dreidel cookies, and stringing beads into dreidel shapes, for example.

Chanukah entertainment came next, as a professional guitarist regaled the party-goers with live music that had everyone singing and dancing along to popular holiday tunes. 

The guitarist had everyone lending their voices or otherwise participating by having groups of eight don amusing “candle” hats and stand in menorah formation, while a ninth wore a taller “candle” on her head, serving as the human menorah’s taller shammos service candle.  Each “shammos” then got to sing a solo as the other eight “candles” clapped and sang along.

Throughout it all, as dancers and participants took breaks from the energetic festivities, fresh food was on hand for noshing, ranging from fresh vegetables and dips (laid out on the table in a dreidel formation) to drinks and, of course, dreidel-shaped fruits and snacks.

And when the party was over, everyone got their just desserts—as Mrs. Cziment and crew trotted out delicious home-made ice cream.

Predictably, it was served in molds shaped like dreidels.

Mrs. Kasnett, and Hamaspik of Kings County Director of Residential Services Mr. Cheskel (Joel) Fisher, later reported that all participants had a great time, with the 38th St. guests and staff especially impressed with the professionalism of the décor and the cuisine—and the quality of work that had gone into it all.

But, given that it was not just a party but a Hamaspik dreidel-themed indoor carnival, it had just the right spin.