Flowers and cheesecake

By Leon A Smith
May 31, 2012

How quickly Shavuot comes around – it seems hardly a year since last Shavuot was with us! For many this Festival is a key highlight of the year. For others it will be an irrelevance. Creeping up as it does without any warning in the middle of May – not a time normally associated with Jewish festivals! For those Jewish people of the “3-day a year” persuasion, the Festival of Shavuot will come far down the list in terms of awareness – certainly below Purim and certainly below Chanukah. Yet who is to say religiously that the Festival of Shavuot is of any less importance to any of the other key days in our calendar? By way of word association, to me, “Shavuot” equals flowers in the synagogue and cheesecake. My own particular preference in the world of cheesecake is that which is made with curd cheese sprinkled with crushed digestive biscuit crumbs on the top – that is my association with Shavuot, albeit I did attend synagogue this year in commemoration of the day.

My regular readers will have no difficulty in following my line of thought in reaching the conclusion that I am returning to an oft visited theme. This is the matter of the co-existence of an Orthodox institution with a significant number of less Orthodox residents. As an Orthodox Jewish home, Nightingale House recognises all Jewish festivals. They are celebrated appropriately and religious services are held throughout the year. This year we were delighted to have the presence of a very good friend from the local community who assisted us in conducting the services for Shauvot. (Our Religious Coordinator is recovering from an unfortunate accident). The synagogue service was delightful and clearly enjoyed by everyone who was present. Yet, as a proportion of the overall population at Nightingale, a relatively small number of people attended.

Naturally in accordance with our traditional Orthodox ethos, all of our non-essential services were closed over this period – our Activities Centre, the café, shop, Therapy department, hairdressing salon. Whilst to many this may be stating the obvious, to others this is an inconvenience. Those residents who do not particularly celebrate or acknowledge the Festival of Shavuot merely find it an irritant when some of their favourite services and facilities are closed during this period. It’s true that it is an inconvenience – many of our residents enjoy visiting the shop and café on a regular basis. Yet as an Orthodox home we must adhere and we will continue to adhere to these standards. In other words it is more important to us to maintain that level of orthodoxy throughout the Home than the relatively minor inconvenience to a number of residents not to have some of the facilities available to them during this period.

I cannot conclude this short piece without further reference to cheesecake. As a child I remember clearly good quality cheesecake could only be made with curd cheese. Yet curd cheese seems to be diminishing in supply and increasingly difficult to source. One wonders whether this is a global phenomenon or is it just a Clapham issue? I’ve been trying to track the Futures market to see whether curd cheese is a commodity that is going up or down – so far, I’ve had no success.

Finally I would like to say a word about the merger between Nightingale House and Hammerson House. We have now been fully merged for a month and I must say it is a great feeling. All of us at Nightingale House and Hammerson House are delighted with our new “marriage” and greatly look forward to our Charity Nightingale Hammerson – going from strength to strength in the coming years as a service to the community.

If any of my readers are interested in visiting either Nightingale House or Hammerson House do please make contact. I’d be pleased to show you our facilities.

Finally I would just like to say how delighted we were this week to have been involved with the organisation of a prestigious seminar at the Royal Society of Medicine on various issues relating to dementia. Leading dementia experts in the field of care and research etc came together at the RSM to audience of 120 people – all of whom had an interest in the subject either as health professionals or as carers or, indeed, as people living with dementia. It’s heartening to see the increasing interest which there is in this subject – albeit it’s a little bit dispiriting to read more about the relatively limited amount of money going into researching causes/cures for dementia compared to other chronic diseases. It goes without saying that as life expectancy increases the number of people living with dementia will only increase.


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