p class=”bd-bodydrop”>Teaneck resident Elsie Gerstle had planned to go to Israel for Passover last year. When poor health prevented her from traveling, she spent the holidays at the Jewish Home Assisted Living in River Vale.
The vibrant senior, who lives independently the rest of the year, was one of eight guests who shared the holiday with the facility’s year-round residents. According to Lauren Levant, JHAL executive director, the encounter was so positive for both guests and residents that the Jewish Home is repeating the program for Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur.
“The holidays can be difficult for seniors,” explained Levant. “The preparations are both stressful and rigorous. JHAL’s Passover program made it possible for people who don’t have local families to embrace the holiday and make new friends.”
|Guests and residents at the Jewish Home Assisted Living in River Vale attended a seder. The home welcomed non-residents for the eight days of Passover and is offering a similar program for the High Holidays.|
“We want to give seniors the opportunity to share in the experience of the High Holidays, and at the same time, High Holiday guests can get a taste of what assisted living offers,” said Levant.
The program is open to all seniors, and Levant expects that guests will have the same needs as year-round residents, who range from those who are fully independent to those who need varying degrees of care.
While some are in wheelchairs, she said, “one of our residents still goes to work, and several are still driving. There are married couples who came because one spouse needed a higher level of care than the other spouse could give.”
She noted that the assisted living philosophy is to allow seniors to age in place, pointing out that “appropriate care” is part of the High Holiday package. Caregivers are in residence at all times, she said, and JHAL performs a care evaluation prior to guests’ arrival to ensure their health and well-being during their stay.
According to Levant, JHAL, which is a glatt kosher facility, offers on-site, weekly Shabbat services conducted by a rabbi. Special High Holiday services are planned, and transportation to other synagogues and to the services at the Jewish Home at Rockleigh is available.
In addition to religious services, the facility will offer a variety of daily activities.
“This is a very active community,” said Levant, “and most residents participate in the classes and community life.”
Guests will live as JHAL residents do, in furnished studio or one-bedroom apartments. Meals will be served in JHAL’s dining room.
“We’re serving holiday meals with all the traditional foods prepared by our chef, who is a culinary perfectionist,” Levant said. She added that last year, the presence of guests – including the families of year-round residents – made the dining room particularly festive.
“There were more than 130 people in the dining room during the Passover seders,” she said.
Gerstle said she took full advantage of everything JHAL offered, noting that “the food was very good, and there was always a choice at meals. I participated in exercise sessions and spent much of my time with the individuals and couples that I met.” She also made many friends during her stay.
And while Gerstle plans to be home for Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, she said she would not hesitate to return to JHAL. “It’s a wonderful place for people who need assistance or can’t live at home. We’re very lucky to have it.”
The High Holiday package includes lodging, meals, any daily care needed, and all activities. Guests are welcome for all or part of the two-week holiday period. For more information, or to make reservations, call Levant or John Albanese at (201) 666-2370.