Last year, the Jewish communal agencies that serve older adults – Jewish Senior Life (JSL), Jewish Family Service (JFS), JVS and the Jewish Community Center, with support from the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit – launched a collaborative effort to serve older adults efficiently and easily.

Meeting the Boom

While each agency functions independently to serve the needs of older adults in specific ways, the organizations agreed that it was imperative to come together in response to the unprecedented needs of the community’s growing population of vibrant seniors.

“Older adults today are independent, dynamic and working, playing and thriving well into their later years,” says Carol Rosenberg, Director, Jewish Senior Life Foundation. “We are serving the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boomers, redefining what aging looks and feels like. The services we and our sister agencies must provide are changing and adapting to meet their needs.”

Harold Israel
Harold Israel

The collaborative effort is known as One Number, a single phone number (248-661-1836) where community members can find answers, direction and services to whatever the older adult in their life requires. The last four digits – 1836 – are symbolic of chai and double-chai. (That’s twice the life, according to Hebrew numerology, where the number 18 stands for the Hebrew word chai, which means life).

The collaboration is important. According to Amy Singer, from Jewish Family Service, the One Number has been effective in  directing several referrals to her agency for the new Wellness Empowers program designed to help people with Type 2 Diabetes lead healthier lives.

May is Older Americans Month

The month of May is nationally known as Older Americans Month, which was created by the U.S. Administration on Aging in 1963 to recognize older Americans as productive, active and influential members of our society. At that time, only 17 million Americans had reached the age of 65. Then, one-third of older Americans lived in poverty and there were few programs to meet their unique needs. It was under President John F. Kennedy’s direction that the National Council of Senior Citizens designated May as “Senior Citizens Month,” the precursor to what we celebrate today.

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter changed it to Older Americans Month – which has become a time to acknowledge the contributions of older adults in our country. Across the country, Older Americans are celebrated in May with ceremonies, events, fairs and other programs.

This year’s theme is “Unleashing the Power of Age,” an apt theme for what happens locally to celebrate older Americans. To honor older adults in our community, two local events will be held.

Jewish Senior Life, in partnership with the JCC, Jewish Family Service, JVS and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, will host the Bessie Spector z”l Oldest Jewish Americans Brunch, May 3, to recognize adults 95 years of age and older.  Sponsored by Jewish Senior Life, Eight Over Eighty takes place May 19 and celebrates eight remarkable octogenarians and their lifelong involvement in the local community. Both events are open to the public.

“It’s important for people to realize how valuable these individuals are,” says Barbra Giles, JSL Associate Director. “These older adults are the building blocks of our community.”

Nettie Stein, Jack Adelman, Delores Wulff, Rose Breitberg

Jewish Detroit celebrates and nurtures older adults in many ways. Here’s a snapshot of what we have to offer our oldest community members:

Jewish Senior Life: Jewish Senior Life of Metropolitan Detroit is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for older adults through programs and services that support aging with dignity and choice, and maximize independence. With offices in Oak Park and West Bloomfield, JSL connects people with services through ONE NUMBER for all things: 248-661-1836. All of JSL’s programs and services can be found at www.jslmi.org.

The Active Life, JCC: The Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit, at both the Oak Park and West Bloomfield campuses, offers a full range of programs, events and activities for the Active Life to help adults “age in place.”  Activities include mind-stimulating clubs, lectures, body-focused dances, meals and health programs; heart-engaging music and memory-inspiring programs; and spiritual offerings like holiday observances and classes. There are also opportunities for socialization through discussion groups and trips. Find The Active Life at www.jccdet.org.

Jewish Family Service: Jewish Family Service of Metropolitan Detroit serves a wide array of individuals and families, among them older adults. Its services for older adults include geriatric case management, home care, Holocaust survivor assistance, emergency financial assistance, transportation, mental health counseling, meals on wheels, housing and legal assistance, immigration and citizenship services, translation services, caregiver support, ElderCare Solutions of Michigan. Find JFS at www.jfsdetroit.org.

JVS: JVS helps people meet life changes affecting self-sufficiency through counseling, training and support services in accordance with Jewish values. Older adult services include Senior Service Corps, Memory Club, the Dorothy & Peter Brown Jewish Community Adult Day Care Program in Southfield and more. Learn more at www.jvsdet.org.

The Dorothy & Peter Brown Jewish Community Adult Day Care Program Two Sites – One Program: Led by Peter Ostrow, the Brown Center, a service of Jewish Senior Life, is located on the Eugene & Marcia Applebaum Jewish Community Campus in West Bloomfield. It serves older adults with memory disorders. Its programs – enhanced by a donor gift which funds more programs like art therapy with Lorraine Feber and yoga therapy with Marla Horwitz and Lynn Medow – are designed to enhance self-esteem, well-being and dignity. Its programs enable family members to keep loved ones living at home, enhance quality of life and reduce the need for paid caregivers for older adults. Activities include arts and crafts, entertainment, baking, exercise, music, dancing, field trips, pets, gardening, drama and holiday celebrations. For more information, go to www.jslmi.org/services/brown-day-care-program/.


Older Americans Month Local Events

May 3

The Bessie Spector z”l  Oldest Jewish Americans Brunch

The Greatest Generation: We Honor Our Stars

11 a.m.

Congregation Shaarey Zedek  (27375 Bell Road, Southfield)

For Information: Beth Tryon, 248-592-5026, btryon@jslmi.org


May 19

Eight Over Eighty

11:30 a.m.

Adat Shalom Synagogue  (29901 Middlebelt Rd., Farmington Hills)

Tickets: $80 for adults, $40 for children under 18

For Information: Michelle Buda, 248-592-1101

Eight Over Eighty honorees include Barbara Cantor, Martin Hollander, Joan Jampel, Dr. Ruben Kurnetz, Sara Manson, Samuel Pruchno, Estelle Seltzer and Dr. Ronald Trunsky.

-Posted by Lynne Meredith Golodner,  public relations consultant to Jewish Senior Life..