Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

By Pamela Ruben
Jewish Pavilion 

Meitin reflects on volunteering with seniors and the Jewish Pavilion


Etta Goldstein, left, enjoys celebrating Purim with the Jewish Pavilion’s Debbie Meitin.

Debbie Meitin has been leading services, attending holiday programs and visiting seniors in their independent residences, assisted living facilities and nursing homes since the Jewish Pavilion opened its doors as a “Jewish Home on Wheels” in 1998. Since then, Meitin has conducted Shabbat services at Chambrel, Grand Villa, Horizon Bay and Island Lake. She has also led numerous holiday celebrations.

The Jewish Pavilion is honoring her, along with Cathy Swerdlow, at the Celebration of Tradition at 5 p.m. Sunday, April 21 at Orlando Marriott Lake Mary, 1501 International Parkway.

“Today [March 9] I am celebrating Purim for the third time this holiday cycle,’ Meitin said. “However, this may be the only time a senior has a visit this week. Jewish continuity, seniors and relationships keep me coming back time and time again.”

On this particular Friday, Horizon Bay senior and member of the Jewish community, Etta Goldstein, is thrilled to see her friend, Debbie Meitin. Etta takes in the crowns, beaded necklaces and festive décor and asks, “Where’s the hamantashen?”

At more than 90 years old, Etta knows Purim well, and eyes the holiday gifts on the table with a smile. Then, Etta shares that her son and grandchildren are visiting from up North, and that they are at Epcot for the day. Meitin asks about their travel plans, and Etta enthusiastically spills all the details.

“I have known Etta for at least five years, and we always look forward to getting together for our monthly Shabbat service,” Meitin said. “Even if she doesn’t feel great, she’ll make every effort to attend. She’s always interested in what’s going on in my life, especially hearing about my travels. When Pat Rubenstein and I come to Horizon Bay, we always make sure we see Etta.”

While Etta and her Jewish neighbors at Horizon Bay have celebrated Purim at least 80 times each, other residents join in the fun at Horizon Bay, attracted by the welcoming, party atmosphere, not to mention the hamantashen.

One resident, called out, “I don’t know this holiday. Can you share the history?” A volunteer told the brief story of Esther, explaining that the upcoming Purim play will add clarification.

Soon, senior Purim party attendees are “booing” Haman, and clapping their hands to the music of Bob Glickman at the lively Purim Spiel.

Etta added, “When the Pavilion visits, it livens us old girls up.”

Meitin couldn’t agree more, and had already begun preparing for her next Shabbat service.

For more information call 407-678-9363 or visit http://www.jewishpavilion.org for more information.


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