Los Angeles Jewish Home's Blog
Monday, October 21, 2013
Residents Receive an Insider's Perspective on the Middle East
Residents, curious to learn about international events, packed the Eisenberg Village multi-purpose room and Fountainview theater for two back-to-back presentations.
Touching on hot topics like Iran, Syria, Egypt, the Palestinians, and Israeli government affairs, Hoffman presented an optimistic outlook for the Jewish State — that despite the sensationalist stories we read daily, Israel's position in the region is actually extremely strong.
Hoffman described how the world was no longer quite as threatening to Israel as it once was.
From Egypt becoming so pro-Israel some of their newspapers referred to the Jewish State as their "savior" to Syria having only 10% of its military capability, the overarching message was that Israel is much safer than it was only a couple years ago.
On Iran, Hoffman explained that UN sanctions and Netanyahu's "red line" left the potentially nuclear arch-nemesis reeling, and that the world is largely on Israel's side.
As the conversation delved into the conflict with the Palestinians, Hoffman described how Hamas is being quickly marginalized across the region, and how American-led peace talks were progressing well.
The presentations concluded with Hoffman describing how, in Israel, "at the age of 65, we're finally growing up. We can look back on what we've built with pride." Now in a more stable position regionally, the current Knesset was elected mostly on economic issues, is far more moderate than in previous years, and potentially more malleable toward lasting peace terms with Israel's neighbors.
"They loved him!"said Eisenberg Village activities director Caryl Geiger. "They really raved about him."
The benefit to the residents was more than simply entertainment.
"What he did was stimulate the residents intellectually," Geiger explained. "We had such a big response, and the residents had great questions for him."
Residents continued the lively discussion about the topics covered during Hoffman's presentations following the events. "So informative" and "excellent speaker" were repeated over and over.
One new resident at Eisenberg Village thanked the Jewish Home staff for organizing such a marvelous event.
"I've been here only a week — I'm so impressed," she exclaimed. "And they tell me events like this are normal!"
The Fountainview audience was just as enthusiastic. Shelley Smilen, director of resident services, recalls, "One resident shared with me, 'He was funny, humble, and informative — when is he coming back?', and that’s quite a statement coming from this gentleman!"
Special thanks goes to the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles for bringing Gil Hoffman through its Israel Speakers Bureau.
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Based on My Sermon for the First Day of Rosh Hashanah — Letter from the Rabbi
Wouldn't it be better to do it the other way around? Shouldn't we first seek atonement, and then — cleansed and joyful — enter into the celebration of the beginning of a fresh new year? Certainly that would make good sense; but there is another way of looking at the sequence, which adds extra power to these High Holy Days.
A major aspect of Rosh Hashanah is celebrating the creation of the world. As the prayer book says, Hayom harat olam — today is the birthday of the world. So let us on this day contemplate and celebrate the beauty and wonder of the world God has created:
- A world where we can look after our environment, so that the atmosphere is free from pollution, the air is clean, and the seas are pure.
- A world where rain is abundant in its due season; where rivers flow full but safe within their riverbanks, irrigating the land and giving human and animal alike plentiful and pure life-giving water.
- A world where people and nations pursue justice, so that every person in the world has his or her share to eat, access to drinking water, and safe shelter.
- A world where rulers and governments are wise and just, assuring a decent and good life for all their citizens.
- A world where women, and people of all sexual orientations and races and religions, are treated honorably and with equality.
- A world where immigrants seeking safety and a good life are respected and enabled to play their part in society.
- A world where war is unknown, as nations know the value of seeking peace and cooperation with their neighbors.
- A world where people have an overwhelming desire to spread happiness and to be compassionate and protective to others.
I understand the creation story as God's gift of a potentially wonderful world. Just as we human beings, created in God's image, have the potential to be so much more than we often manage to be, so too the world is only a beginning of what it could be. Let us, on this Rosh Hashanah, this birthday of the world, celebrate that potentially wonderful world, with an honest recognition of all the ways it falls short.
At this season, we are not only celebrating, we also are starting the process that culminates on the day of Atonement, a process of looking at what we have achieved, both personally and collectively, and what we have failed to achieve; what we have done for the good of the world, and the negative things we have done that contribute to the world's shortcomings. Every act we do or don't do makes a difference to the health of the world we are passing to our children and grand-children.
As well as enjoying the good and the love in our lives, and wishing each other a new year filled with sweetness and good, we can hold in mind that idealized picture of the world, and know that it is within the power of every one of us to move this imperfect world an inch or two towards that beautiful potential.
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
BCSC in the News!
Since BCSC is one of the only PACE centers in the Greater Los Angeles Area, and the only one in the San Fernando Valley, the kind of care we offer seniors—allowing them to access nursing home-quality care while living in their own homes—is incredibly unique.
Check out the videos below!
The first ABC News story:
The second ABC News story:
Monday, July 22, 2013
What Values Do We Pass On? — Letter from the Rabbi
Moses is impassioned in his teaching and in his pleas. He fully recognizes that the people, naturally endowed with free will, are prone to choosing to go their own ways, rather than follow the spiritual and ethical path he has taught them.
We all have a sense of what is good and worthwhile, and what is not. Just as Moses urged his people to follow God’s ways and lead an ethical life, shouldn’t we give our children and grandchildren guidance based on the fruits of our own experiences? Of course it’s most important to teach by example; but many people, as they reach advanced years, quite rightly want to be more explicit in the values they pass on.
One resident surprised me by saying we shouldn’t try to teach the next generation anything, as they know more than we do. It is true that, in many cases, the children and grandchildren of residents have been blessed with more education that the residents had, and have gone further in the world of careers; but what the older generation has is a lifetime of experience, wisdom, and knowledge of what it means to live a life that is good and worthwhile.
As we get older, most of us have a clearer sense of what is really important in life. I remember someone approaching the end of her life who said that now she realized that what really mattered were relationships with family and with friends. This person now saw how nurturing our connection with others was a higher value than all the measures of success in the world, like money or fame.
At one class, when I asked what values residents would want to pass on to later generations, one said: Work for society. It was a call to pursue fairness and justice in society, perhaps the major theme of Torah. Another talked of kindness, another of generosity. We touched on gratitude. (In recent years, gratitude for the blessings in life has become for me one of the strongest aspects of what it means to be religious).
One resident spoke from the heart when she called out: Be forgiving. This is wonderful advice to pass on, and especially good to think about as we approach the High Holy Days.
Then there are values like honesty; or courage; or humility. As the story of Moses shows, even a strong leader can have humility. Or would you emphasize respect for all other human beings, and want to teach the importance of listening to people and seeking to understand them? There are residents who are very communal-minded, and stress the importance of love for the Jewish People and support for its causes and institutions.
A number of residents talked of faith in God as paramount; I know that such faith has been the essential support to many people in meeting life’s challenges, including surviving years in concentration camp.
Do you remember the values your own parents taught you? A resident spoke movingly of his parents’ last words to him when they put him on the kindertransport at the age of 11. His mother’s simple words to him were: Be good! He never saw his mother or father again, but those words have remained a guiding light to him his whole life.
Each one of us has had our own experiences which have helped develop our values. We all have much that’s worthwhile to pass on to the younger generations. Let’s take the time to do it.
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
ASN Vocational Nurse Students Assist Those in Need
“As nursing students, we spend so much time experiencing nursing through our textbooks,” said ASN student Richard Wagner. “Our field trip to Hope of the Valley was a special experience we shall all cherish for some time to come. It was a real example of what nursing is all about…touching the lives of those who are truly in need.”
Since 2009, Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission has aspired to meet the needs of the “whole” person – spiritually, emotionally, and physically by offering hope, hot meals, housing, health services, and healing to those in need. When the ASN students arrived, Hope staff shared the organization’s history, vision, and programs offered. The students then met with a substance abuse counselor and explored a variety of issues. The ASN students were given assignments, which offered opportunities to interact with clients and providers.
“The Annenberg students proved themselves to be detail oriented, flexible, caring, energetic, and willing to go out of their comfort zone,” said Louise Moore, program director for Hope of the Valley. “In other words, qualities that say “nurse!”
ASN instructor David Cooper felt the experience was enriching and enlightening for the students. “They were able to assist in providing charitable relief to hundreds of individuals in need, helping to feed and distribute supplies to homeless guests.”
The ASN vocational nurse students will be returning to Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission in July, something the students are looking forward to, and staff and clients of Hope of the Valley will greatly appreciate.