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David Hedlund dances with Thelma Block. 

Image: Amelia Vaughn

 

Frank Sinatra’s voice fills the room, and the bar is serving a very respectable Manhattan. At a glitter-sprinkled table, Sylvia Hayden and Boaz Porath chat away like old college buddies. But more than 50 years separate these two. Sylvia is 87 and a resident of The Summit, Seattle’s Jewish senior housing community, and Boaz, 34, is a member of The Tribe, Temple De Hirsch Sinai’s 20- and 30-something group. Tonight they’re celebrating the third annual Seniors’ Senior Prom.

“It’s like high school prom without the drama,” says Alyssa Bobman, a member of the Tribe and co-chair of the prom. The Tribe developed the theme and arranged the decorations and entertainment, from the movie posters in light-up frames as centerpieces to the DJ spinning showtunes on vinyl. Alyssa says residents have been asking about prom since the last one ended. “They’re excited,” she says. “People tell us it’s their favorite event of the year. If I’m here between events they ask me when the next one is.”

“We don’t get to interact much with people of this generation,” says David Hedlund, the other prom chair. “A lot of us are new here, and our families are dispersed. This gives us a chance to bridge that gap, to hear stories from people with such long and interesting lives.”

Anne Hirschhorn is dressed for the event in white and gold, her coral nails paired to her lipstick, her party beads a surprising match to her pearls. “It’s good for the young people that are here,” she says. “They see us dressed up, they see we still have rich, full lives. Plus, it’s a mitzvah that they create this for us.”

A young woman sits down next to Sylvia. “What’s your story?” Sylvia asks. “Are you single, engaged, something…else?” Boaz excuses himself to gently lead a lady in black to the dance floor. The young woman smiles at this instant grandmother. “I’m single,” she says, almost apologetically. They begin to chat like old friends.

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