Sunrise at Huntcliff Summit has its own mini sukkah for the first time, thanks to resident Julian Yudelson. Having a sukkah for more than 50 years, the Atlanta native believes everyone should have one. So when he noticed the residents of the Sandy Springs facility didn’t, he set out to change that.
Yudelson has deep roots in the Atlanta Jewish community that go as far back as the 1960s. He and his late wife, also from Atlanta, graduated with master’s degrees from Emory University. In the early 1960s, Yudelson moved north to Rochester, N.Y., to teach marketing as a college professor.
After his wife’s passing five years ago, Yudelson decided it was time to return to Atlanta to be close to his family. Yudelson also returned in the hopes of connecting with some of his former Jewish classmates from high school.
“The Jewish community was even more tight-knit back then,” Yudelson explained. “Everybody knew everybody.” Yudelson quips that he was “probably related to half of Jewish Atlanta back then.”
Last November, he became a resident of the Huntcliff senior living home. Being a practicing modern Orthodox Jew, Yudelson quickly began preparing to make Huntcliff his own community. He noticed that about 30 percent of the home’s population were also Jewish, and that there were ways he could help bring Judaism to the facility.
To continue using his background as a professor, Yudelson currently teaches a Shabbat afternoon parshah class (based on the Torah portion) for any residents interested. Four to five residents join him for every class. He emphasized the importance of exposing residents to Jewish traditions and customs and teaching them Jewish ideologies.
As part of this ideology, he asked Huntcliff if he could set up a sukkah. After ensuring proper safety and sanitation due to COVID-19, management gave him permission to erect the sukkah. Yudelson bought a tiny two-person sukkah from a Judaica store off Briarcliff Road. He borrowed the sukkah’s lulav and etrog from his synagogue, Congregation Or Hadash.
He uses the small sukkah to eat, light candles, and pray, and so far, two residents have joined him: Rochelle Spandorfer and Grace Benator. Yudelson explained that many people living at the facility do not have much exposure to Sukkot, and he hopes to help include them in those traditions.
Yudelson mentioned that the facility is “very supportive” of its Jewish residents; there are Shabbat services at Huntcliff every Friday. He hopes to continue this sukkah tradition and his efforts to make the Jewish residents of Huntcliff feel more at home.