2014-07-23 / Columns

Federation and its Family of Agencies help seniors live a full and active life

Federation President

L’dor v’Dor.

From Generation to Generation. That is what the brick says at the entrance to our Jewish Community Campus in Cherry Hill. I see those words almost every day as I come to the Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey for a meeting or event. Those words signify our Jewish continuity and core values; how we as a community care for so many individuals, young and old, and everyone in between. While our Federation serves over 50,000 people in our local Burlington, Camden, and Gloucester counties, and hundreds of thousands more across the nation, in Israel and overseas, we never forget that each and every individual, together with our 7,500 generous donors, is a member of our Jewish Federation family, and we always try to make each one feel cared for and respected.

A perfect example is a recent letter of appreciation that was shared with me by Lions Gate Continuing Care Retirement Community in Voorhees, which is affiliated with our Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey.

In May, Harriet lost her mother, Ann. Within days, Harriet wrote to Susan Love, executive director of operations at Lions Gate, to share her appreciation of the kind, thoughtful, and joyful staff members who each brightened her mother’s final nine months of life in which she resided in the Lions Gate Skilled Nursing Unit.

In her letter, Harriet shared: “Previous to her living at Lions Gate, I never would have imagined that [my mother] would be so happy…Instead of watching and falling asleep to whatever was on television, she was kept busy and entertained…much to her surprise, never having done them before, she loved doing puzzles and playing Bingo…She loved all the musical entertainment…and she loved [the staff] who helped her look good and always put her in a good mood.”

Aging with dignity. Adding life to our years. Providing new experiences. Ann’s story exemplifies our Federation’s goal of providing Life, Learning, and Wellness. In addition to living a full life in her final days, Harriet’s mother enjoyed the religious services offered by Rabbi Lewis Eron at Lions Gate. “My mother never had much of a religious education; she surprised me by her eagerness to attend services regularly. She liked that Rabbi Eron knew her name and that he made a point of greeting her.”

Rabbi Eron leads services for Shabbat and the Jewish holidays, conducts classes on Jewish and general topics, and works with the programming and activities staff to ensure that the cultural life of Lions Gate responds to the rhythms of the Jewish year. He also makes sure that the spiritual needs of the non-Jewish residents receive appropriate attention.

I find it so meaningful that in her final months, Ann was able to experience her religion in a way life may not have afforded her in the past. She was able to learn and grow in her Judaism. It makes me proud that our Federation family was able to provide Ann with that connection to her Jewish community, and it is great comfort to know that she felt that closeness before she passed away, surrounded by peace and love. My father- in- law, Simpson, experienced the same compassion in Lions Gate’s skilled nursing facility in his final months as well.

Lions Gate is part of Federation’s Jewish Senior Housing and Healthcare Service (JSHHS), which provides the benefits of quality housing and compassionate healthcare services to those at Lions Gate and to many limited and moderateincome seniors and their families. Their community-based housing at the Dubin, Gesher, and Saltzman Houses creates a dignified and respectful environment consistent with our Jewish values. They are widely recognized for their excellence of services provided to residents. They truly honor our community’s seniors and enhance their social, cultural, and spiritual well-being; and that is seen most clearly in the life Ann lived at Lions Gate.

It is in large part due to the funds you generously commit to Federation’s Annual Campaign, that each day many of our community’s seniors are able to take classes at the Katz Jewish Community Center’s Lifelong Learning program, or get a hot kosher meal at lunch with their friends. Our region’s Holocaust survivors remain active in the JCRC’s Goodwin Holocaust Museum and Education Center (GHMEC), working with area teachers and students to help teach tolerance to the generations to come, with the help of endowments from our Jewish Community Foundation, Inc. Others benefit from programs like Samost Jewish Family and Children’s Service Patient Partners program or Federation’s Aleph Home Care.

The mission to care for our community’s seniors is so very important, and I am incredibly proud of the vital services we provide. JSHHS, like Samost Jewish Family and Children’s Service, JCRC’s GHMEC, JCF, and the JCC, fulfills an important need in our community; they serve our most vulnerable seniors, and promise to be there when we are in need as we age.

L’dor v’dor. When we care for those who came before us, and pave the way for the generations to come, we are providing peace of mind. It is comforting to know that there is a place where our loved ones, and ourselves, can age with dignity, surrounded by a loving and caring staff, in an environment rooted in our Jewish traditions and values.

Through the programs and services of our Jewish Federation and Family of Agencies, and the dollars we raise, together we create a strong, caring, and vibrant Jewish community for all ages. Our Federation connects us, across all generations, to our heritage and to our legacies. We really have the Strength of a People and the Power of Community. Please join me in making or increasing your pledge to the Federation’s 2014 Annual Campaign now. L’dor v’dor. . jfedpres@jfedsnj.org

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