Bonnie Marcus and her husband, Mike Bennett, moved to Crosslands in 2011, when Bonnie was still in her 60’s. They lived in nearby Radnor PA, and became interested in Crosslands when one of their neighbors moved in. The neighbors had done extensive research into retirement options, so it made Bonnie pretty confident they didn’t have to kick the tires on every local community themselves. ”There was availability- we have a great home here in the 400’s, and we had friends at Crosslands, so the decision was pretty easy for us,” she stated.

Kendal was founded on quaker-based values, but Bonnie is Jewish and observes the holidays, and has helped organize Seders in the community for a number of years. Due to COVID-19, this year’s Seder will be virtual, and has been arranged so it falls on a day to maximize participation.

“The Seders have really grown over time. There were just a few people the first year, and 48 at the last one before COVID. In fact, we had a plan in place to move the Seder to the auditorium at Crosslands from the dining room and Cafe areas to accommodate everyone, and to allow us to use the sound system as well so everyone can hear the readings better as well.”  John Pratt from Dining Services has been working with Bonnie to make these changes, as so many people from the community- the Jewish residents, but also people who are non-affiliated or affiliated with other religions can take part and share this special annual dinner and celebration.

“This year, we’ll be holding a combined virtual Seder with both Kendal and Crosslands residents. Dining services has been wonderful and will make up kits to pick up the night before along with materials for the ceremony. Since Passover this year coincides closely with Palm Sunday, we’ve moved the virtual Seder to Tuesday, March 30th to make sure we can include everyone interested in attending. This also allows those who are vaccinated and have family close to celebrate a Seder with their family too- which is especially important this year.” Bonnie stated. “Making sure everyone feels included, especially non-Jewish residents, is central to celebrating Passover, and it is similar to the quaker-based values here about community and inclusion as well.”

Bonnie also participates in a Jewish Studies group that used to alternate between Kendal at Longwood and Crosslands, but has been on Zoom for the past year. The Rabbi who runs the group has enlarged it to also include residents from other communities in the area, Jews and non-Jews as well. Bonnie continued, “There is an overlap between different religions, and we all have so much in common. It’s a great opportunity for all of us to share and explore our beliefs together.” One of the central beliefs in Judaism is studying the Torah and then reading the various interpretations in the Midrash, exploring both the religious and practical meanings of the text. 

Mike Bennett
Mike, Bonnie’s husband, with their grandson

Coming originally from New York in the 1990’s, Bonnie was used to a large and supportive community which was harder to establish in Radnor. “We lived in a house on a flag lot, with no sidewalks- there was less community than we had in New York.”

When they first moved to Crosslands, Bonnie had some health concerns, and she was so happy so many things were just taken care of. “It’s the ease of getting things taken care of- when my husband wasn’t feeling well, we just went down to the health center, and after a quick blood test, they recommended we go to the hospital right away. If we had been at our old home, we might have waited days, debating whether it was worth going to the doctor or not, and procrastinating- but here- it’s like always having an umbrella in a rainstorm. Sure, you can get wet if you want, but there’s help and protection at hand if you need it- and for us, it’s been essential.”

Bonnie and her husband have found a great community, and Bonnie is even Judge of Elections for the Crosslands Polling place. By moving to Crosslands early, they have been able to take advantage of everything Crosslands has to offer, and are committed to making sure everyone gets a chance to express and be recognized and seen for who they are and the diversity they bring to the larger Kendal-Crosslands Community.