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contents August 2020 • www.lchaimmagazine.com
COVER STORY Shield of David: Standing up to Anti-Semitism on Campus............................................................
1000 WORDS Birthright at 20: An Interview with Philanthropists Sheldon and Miriam Adelson.................................................................................
10 BAHARAT CAULIFLOWER
FOOD Baharat Roasted Cauliflower with Pickled Red Cabbage and Pumpkin Seed Sauce......................................................................... EDUCATION Building Student Connections to the Holocaust Through Storytelling........................
FEATURES Accessible Judaism......................................................................................................................................... Financial Health................................................................................................................................................. SENIORS
BIRTHRIGHT AT 20
When You Need a Federation.................................................................................................................. COVID-19 and the Jewish Elderly..........................................................................................................
Torah: Of the Book......................................
Mazel and Mishagoss...............................
PUBLISHERS Diane Benaroya & Laurie Miller
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TORAH l BY RABBI DANIEL BORTZ
the book Elul
he Jewish Mystics liken the Hebrew month of Tishrei and the High Holidays to a king being in his palace. The villagers prepare themselves, dress in their very best, and with a mixture of joy and awe they visit the palace to crown their king. But in regards to the Hebrew month of Elul, they describe it as the king leaving his palace to enter the fields to visit his people as they are. In a spiritual sense, this means that at this time G-d is granting us easy access to feel our connection and deepen our relationship with Him. In the late 18th century there lived a Hassid by the name of Shmuel Munkis. Every year, during the month of Elul, Shmuel wanted to maximize this special time and would travel to his teacher the Alter Rebbe for the inspiration and guidance he needed. One year he encountered a problem: He was broke. Anyone who wanted to travel a great distance in those days without a wagon had to travel by foot, even in the freezing Russian winter. Undeterred, Shmuel set off on the long journey. As he trudged along the side of the road under torrents of snow, a wagon pulled up
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • AUGUST 2020
beside him. The driver called out to him and asked his destination. Seeing as they were heading in the same path, he offered him a ride. As excited as he was to find a lift, Shmuel had to sit on the back of the wagon under the cold open sky among barrels of vodka the driver was transporting. Freezing, he called out to the driver and asked permission to take a drink. He filled a small cup and as he drank, Shmuel finally began to feel warmth flow through his body. When he reached his Rebbe’s town, Shmuel ran straight into the central synagogue and gathered his friends. “I understood a powerful insight on my journey here. I came to realize that we can be surrounded by warmth, but if we fail to internalize it into our beings, we will remain cold.” Special moments of inspiration and wisdom are presented to us. It can be standing at the Western Wall or taking in a sunset at the beach with a loved one. The months of Elul and Tishrei are full of these unique opportunities to connect to something higher and greater. The key is to first be aware of this special moment, to then feel it deeply, and then to internalize it. To take in that warmth
into our beings so that it affects who we are after it’s over. To implement changes to our daily schedule that reflects the impact and truth of those moments. We have access to oxygen everywhere, but to enjoy its benefits we have to actually breathe it in. Standing by the pool on a hot day will not cool us off. The first step is to open ourselves to deeper connection to others, to ourselves, and to G-d. The next level is to decide that this is something we want as part of our entire lives. Emunah - faith, stems from the word amon - craftsman. Like a silversmith who works on his sword continuously to form it, we need continual awareness and effort if we hope to internalize a spiritual truth. If we’re moved during a special moment, let’s try and bring that awareness into our daily lives. We know that any relationship worth having needs consistent nurturing. Through our efforts, may our souls feel satiation like a warm drink on a cold winter’s night.. DANIEL BORTZ, THE MILLENNIAL RABBI, IS THE FOUNDER OF JTEEN AND SOUL X. CONNECT AT RABBIBORTZ.COM.
Thanks to Magen David Adom THIS 13-YEAR-OLD BOY HASN’T PLAYED HIS LAST SOCCER GAME In early July, Eilon Gabriel Atel met up with friends for a friendly neighborhood soccer game. Suddenly, in the middle of the game, the 13-year-old boy grabbed his chest then went into cardiac arrest and collapsed. His frightened friends were clearheaded enough to know what to do when someone’s life is in danger: call Magen David Adom’s 101 Emergency Dispatch Center. A paramedic at the dispatch center provided Eilon’s friends with primary medical instructions and one of the friends began CPR. Within minutes, an MDA Life Support Ambulance and a Mobile Intensive Care Unit (MICU) arrived at the scene. MDA’s lifesaving team began performing advanced resuscitation, which included chest compressions, administering medications, and shocking Eilon’s heart with a defibrillator. After several minutes, Eilon’s heart re-started. MDA paramedics continued medical treatment while evacuating him in the MICU to the hospital, where doctors continued to fight for his life until he regained consciousness shortly afterward. “As soon as I arrived at the field, I saw a young boy unconscious and the people who were there performing basic resuscitation operations with guidance from the MDA dispatch center,” said Feras Rayes, a senior MDA EMT who arrived at the soccer field first. “This is not a common situation to perform resuscitation operations on a young boy and we really fought for him,” said Amit Orenshten, an MDA paramedic. “In the first few seconds after using the defibrillator, I saw on the screen that Eilon’s heart was beating again and we were all very relieved. His friends really shouted for joy on the soccer field.” “We have no words to thank the medic at the MDA dispatch center who instructed those how to start performing the resuscitation operations and the teams that arrived quickly at the soccer field and brought Eilon back to us,” said Meshi Atal, Eilon’s mother. “We have no doubt that without their dedicated care in the first and critical minutes, Eilon would not have been with us today. Thanks to Feras and Amit, we won him back.” TO LEARN MORE ABOUT ISRAEL’S NATIONAL EMERGENCY MEDICAL ORGANIZATION, VISIT AFMDA.ORG. WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM
HUMOR | BY STEPHANIE LEWIS
& mishagoss Did Someone Say Jewish Summer Camp?
uring the pandemic, your family’s Jewish Summer Camp experience has not been cancelled. It’s just been relocated. Inside your garage. What does this mean? First you need to think up an exotic Hebrew or Yiddish name they’ve never heard of. There are always lots of words starting with the letter “S.” But forget Camp Simcha or Camp Shalom. Those are already taken and now is the time to be extra creative. Who wouldn’t be proud to wear a t-shirt with Camp Shmutz printed on it? Or Camp Schlepper? Next, slather on sunscreen and load the kids up in your minivan, dispensing the Dramamine before you ever leave the driveway. Take a particularly harsh and outof-the-way winding dirt path to your targeted destination, so they feel properly carsick. But before you reach this desired location, pull over to the side of the road and call Triple AAA. And never let them know exactly what went wrong. Think back. Was it ever an easy ride to camp on the bus when you were young? This will naturally trigger more eager anticipation for what comes next. By the way, when you went inside Target, (Your targeted destination, get it??) you should have stocked up on all things S’mor related. But you omitted the graham crackers because you knew you’d be using the stale matzah from Passover. Finally arrive in front of your house with a big traditional Jewish fanfare. Hopefully 8
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • AUGUST 2020
while you were gone, one of the other Counselors-In-Training (known to you as your spouse) will have suspended an Israeli flag on your garage door. Continue your celebratory arrival by blowing a Shofar, spinning a dreidel, and shaking a lulav and your booty. Immediately sit all the kids down on the overgrown front grass with pens and lined paper to write a letter home, since there will be massive postal delays receiving any mail in your living room because it’s always off limits, except for guests on Sundays. Now…let the tie-dying begin. Anything in your garage is fair game. Those ripped bath towels, beach blankets, and car-washing shmattahs will never look more colorful. But now you need a camp song. Though your garage is quite messy, the song should not in any way resemble the Clean-Up song from that KPBS show. But it should have a lot of clapping, whistling, stomping, and maybe booing in it — and remind children of Purim. And in order to sing the song sitting in a big traditional camp circle, you’ll need to clear some space on the garage floor by returning stray items to their rightful place on shelves and inside storage units. Refer to this as your Camp Parade. There will still be many extra cardboard boxes and empty cartons in your garage from when you moved in eight/ten years ago. But definitely think outside-the-box when it comes to arts and crafts and other programs. At Jewish camp, kids will be expecting
lots of food, so feel free to also give Eating a Hebrew/Yiddish name and tada ... a new camp activity is born! This means in your Daily Camp Schedule you can list, “Fressing” as the morning enrichment, “Noshing” as a midday adventure, and “Potchke-ing Around the Kitchen” will be substantial evening entertainment. But remember the boxes above? Every camper loves receiving carepackages filled with goodies, but now a new mitzvah project reverses this idea. It’s called ‘Packing Up Garage Sale Flops and Driving Them to Goodwill.’ Refer to this boring chore as their first Field Trip and bring a cowbell to ring and your kids will find the entire premise exhilarating. Especially if you promise them a little Gaga (a favorite Jewish camp sport with a ball) afterwards, and then on the way home blast the song, “Shallow” from A Star is Born on your car stereo. Now remember the overgrown grass where they wrote letters home mentioned above? Complete your Home Improvement, err I mean Jewish Camp Experience, with each child getting a turn using the lawnmower and the edger. Nu? Nobody read the fine print? This was actually Jewish Landscaping Camp. STEPHANIE D. LEWIS' WRITING APPEARS IN THE HUFFINGTON POST AND AT ONCEUPONYOURPRIME.COM
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BAHARAT ROASTED CAULIFLOWER
WITH PICKLED RED CABBAGE AND PUMPKIN SEED SAUCE BY MICHAEL GARDINER
he hottest days of the year in San Diego are often those of late August and early September. And while grilling is rarely a bad decision in San Diego any time of year there’s something about those hottest of days that doesn’t cry out for a slab of meat This dish is all about the vegetables appearing in every state: raw, cooked, pickled, and fermented. There’s no reason to miss meat with this cauliflower dish. A spice blend is the most important. Baharat is Arabic for “spices,” and the exotic, aromatic, savory blend by that name has become one of the most important in Israel. Using it here helps underline the meatiness of the cauliflower. Serves 1-2 FOR THE ROAST CAULIFLOWER 1 small head cauliflower (1 1/2 to 2 pounds) 1 teaspoon salt (plus more for boiling the cauliflower) 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1/2 teaspoon Baharat Spice Blend (recipe below) FOR THE PUMPKIN SEED SAUCE 1/3 cup green pepitas (pumpkin seeds) 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice, plus more as needed 1/2 teaspoon onion powder 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more as needed 1 clove garlic, peeled 1 Persian cucumber, chopped 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast 1 teaspoon white (shiro) miso Freshly ground black pepper 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves DIRECTIONS To make the roast cauliflower 1. Preheat oven to 400°F and line baking
sheet with parchment paper.
2. Trim the base of the cauliflower just enough so that it can stand upright.
3. Pour enough water into a medium pot
(just large enough to fit the cauliflower head with a bit of room to spare) so that it comes 1 inch up the sides (about 1 quart of water). Add salt and whisk to combine. Bring to a boil over high heat. 4. Carefully stand the cauliflower head in the pot (stem-side down) and cover. Steam until the florets are just barely tender and the cauliflower is no longer pearly white in color, 10 to 12 minutes. 5. Remove the cauliflower from the pot using a metal spoon and set aside. Let the cauliflower cool for about 10 minutes. 6. While the cauliflower is cooling, in a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, Baharat spice blend, and salt. Spoon the spice oil over the cauliflower and transfer it to the prepared baking sheet. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and roast until golden brown all over, 20 to 30 minutes. To make the pumpkin seed sauce
1. While the cauliflower is roasting,
combine the pepitas, vinegar, lime juice, onion powder, salt, garlic, cucumber, nutritional yeast, miso, pepper to taste, parsley, and 1/4 cup water in the bowl of a high-speed blender or food processor and, starting on low (and gradually increasing), blend until it’s a completely smooth purée. To serve
1. Pour a pool of the pumpkin seed sauce in the bottom of a wide, shallow bowl.
2. Place the whole roast cauliflower head in
BAHARAT SPICE BLEND Makes about 1/2 cup 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper 1 tablespoon freshly grated nutmeg 1 tablespoon paprika 2 teaspoons ground coriander 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 2 teaspoons ground cloves 2 teaspoons ground cumin 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom 2 teaspoons salt DIRECTIONS Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. PICKLED RED CABBAGE Makes about 1 quart 1 1/2 pounds red cabbage (about ½ small head), thinly sliced 2 cloves garlic, crushed 6 dried árbol chiles 6 allspice berries 12 coriander seeds 1/2 cup red wine vinegar 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar 2 tablespoons brown sugar DIRECTIONS 1. Place cabbage in large heatproof bowl. 2. Combine the garlic, chiles, allspice, coriander seeds, vinegars, brown sugar, and 1 cup water in a medium pot and bring to boil over high heat. 3. Pour the mixture over the cabbage and stir. Let cool to room temperature, then transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour. 4. The pickles will keep refrigerated in a sealed container for up to 1 week.
the bowl and top with pickled cabbage.
COVER STORY l BY RACHEL STERN
SHIELD OF DAVID I AM MY BROTHER'S KEEPER
Shield of David is a non-profit organization founded by Dr. Eli Ben Moshe (left) and Brian Blacher.
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • AUGUST 2020
he Shield of David is a non-profit organization founded by Dr. Eli Ben Moshe, an optometrist in Ocean Beach and Brian Blacher, born and raised in South Africa, in conjunction with other members of the San Diego community who believe “we are our brothers’ keepers.” The mission and goals of the organization are to increase Jewish college students’ pride in their Jewish identity and improve their safety as cases of anti-Semitism on campus increase. Ben Moshe reported one example of anti-Semitism he witnessed, which resulted in a student at the University of California-Berkeley having to walk 20 minutes out of his way to attend classes to avoid confrontation from BDS groups. BDS is an organization that mandates boycotting, divesting from, and sanctioning Israel. The presence of BDS on college campuses has contributed to the overall rise in anti-Semitism on college campuses. Recently, both Ben Moshe and Blacher were disappointed and alarmed over disparaging remarks about Israel from four congresswomen. Their remarks went unchallenged by other members of Congress, including Jewish members. Further, recent reports of rising antisemitic incidents on U.S. college campuses contributed to their concern for their own children, which culminated in the forming of the Shield of David program. Shield of David is the English translation for the Hebrew Magen David, also known as the Star of David. As a symbol, the Star of David communicates Jewishness and has an associated history marked by persecution of the Jewish people. The Shield of David organization’s purpose is to bolster Jewish identity and pride in Jewish college students and to instill mental and physical strength to combat anti-Semitism. Ben Moshe and Blacher were determined to help Jewish college students be proud Jews able to stand up to bigotry and hatred. Toward that aim, they created a program that consists of six weekly educational sessions followed by Krav Maga practice. The program, free to college students, is held at a Jewish facility on or near their campus. A style of martial arts practiced by thousands worldwide, Krav Maga is Hebrew for “close combat” and best known as an Israeli combat discipline. The practice is an important aspect of the Shield of David program because it has a pioneering role in the use of situational awareness and reflex responses to attack and is a reflection of historical and political events affecting Jewish people from the late nineteenth century. “Reflex, unconscious reaction, and self-defense are integral to the
“Reflex, unconscious reaction, and selfdefense are integral to the training needed for Jewish college students to remain safe,” Dr. Ben Moshe said. training needed for Jewish college students to remain safe,” Dr. Ben Moshe said. SIX WEEKLY SESSIONS
All six educational modules are standardized so that content is the same at all participating campuses. Each educational session is no more that 15-20 minutes in length, interactive, and allows students to participate with questions and/or responses to specific queries by the instructor. Essential content is related to pride in being Jewish, identifying Jewish heroes, anti-Semitism from the past, contemporary anti-Semitism, and building both mental and physical confidence and strength. WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM
The Krav Maga curriculum is also standardized and uniform across sites. Classes have all been beta tested and modified based on student input. The education and self-defense modules were first developed by Shield of David at a college in Boulder, Colo., where several anti-Semitic attacks had occurred. The course was held near the Boulder campus. A local rabbi, Rabbi Yisreol Wilhelm reported many students who came to school had a less than well-defined Jewish identity, but after taking the classes, they began socializing with other Jewish students and attended Jewish functions and activities at Chabad, the host organization at the Boulder campus. The program, in this case, served as an introduction to other Jewish students and morphed into a closer association with Jewish activities. One of the valuable aspects of the program is that participating Jewish students network and identify with each other to learn they are not alone. PROGRAM RESPONSE
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • AUGUST 2020
positively to the Shield of David program. Today, the organization has received multiple requests from Jewish organizations to provide the program at their site. More than 15 programs were scheduled to begin this Fall at colleges and universities, but the coronavirus pandemic has delayed the start of in-person classed on campus, delaying the Shield fo David program as well. OPERATIONS
The Shield of David organization funds the program and provides the overall organization and structuring of the program, including contacting schools, Jewish organizations and synagogues who might be interested in hosting. There is no cost to the students for participation, and at the end of the program, each student receives a certificate of completion from Israel. Names of students who complete the program are listed on a permanent roster at Shield of David headquarters; this makes them eligible to participate in future programs as ambassadors or in other volunteer roles.
Ben Moshe reports there’s been a request to place the program at an additional 200 schools. Although program costs are minimal, the organization is not prepared to honor all requests made as additional funds and volunteers are needed for that to occur. “Community support has been rewarding but additional donations are needed to continuing building this extremely worthwhile organization and to place the programs on more and more college campuses,” he said. You can contribute to the work of Shield of David by visiting shieldofdavid18.com to make a donation. Should you wish to sponsor the program at a particular school or organization, Shield of David is available. With Shield of David, the community can work together to keep Jewish college students safe and proud of their identity. You can also call Eli Ben Moshe at (619) 743-0559 or Brian Blacher at (858) 405-0312 to make a donation.
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L’CHAIM | BY ZVIKA KLEIN | jns.org
Sheldon and Dr. Miriam Adelson. PHOTO COURTESY WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • AUGUST 2020
BIRTHRIGHT AT 20: AN INTERVIEW WITH PHILANTHROPISTS SHELDON AND MIRIAM ADELSON
irthright, the project established in 2000 by philanthropists Charles Bronfman and Michael Steinhardt, has brought 750,000 participants to see Israel for themselves. The Hebrew daily Makor Rishon recently convened the project’s founders, via video-conference, to explain the impetus behind funding an airplane ticket and hotel accommodations for wealthy young people. In a subsequent Zoom session, the publication interviewed philanthropists Sheldon and Dr. Miriam Adelson, from their California home. (Disclosure: Makor Rishon is held by the Israel Hayom Group, owned by the Adelsons). The couple joined Birthright as donors in 2011, enabling a significant expansion of the project. Miriam Adelson: We heard about Birthright when we were looking to invest in projects that are significant for the Jewish people. When Charles Bronfman told us about it, we became very excited. Bronfman asked for a small amount of money, and Sheldon said, “Of course, we will give it.” Sheldon later told me, “I don’t understand why didn’t ask for more. I would have given him more!” Later, we heard from [American philanthropist] Michael Steinhardt that 10,000 young people register for Birthright’s waiting list every year, and that they are waitlisted because there is not enough money to send every person who registers. We decided then to fund everyone on the waiting list. But then the list grew longer, with 20,000 people in line. So we subsidized them, too.
Sheldon Adelson: My father dreamed of going to Israel, but did not live to see the day. He was born in Lithuania and had suffered immensely for being Jewish. He had always believed that Jews needed a place in the world where they could walk the streets without being beaten, whipped or shot — a place where they would be normal citizens. Years later, after the state of Israel was founded, no one talked about going on a holiday in Israel. At that time, people in Israel were living in tents, and there were no developed businesses. By the time that I had amassed enough money to send my father to Israel, he said that he was too old and ill. That is why, when Miri and I heard about Birthright’s waiting list, we decided we to make sure that these young people would not have to experience what my father did, that they would not have to grow old regretting that they never visited Israel. Miriam: These visits have shown to have an impact on Jewish continuity. The program reinforces the Jewish people. Whenever we are in Israel, we make a point of talking with Birthright groups. One of the girls told me, “I know there are no free rides. What is it that you want from me in exchange?” It was on their tenth and last day in Israel. I told her that by being here for 10 days, she was reinforcing her connection with her roots, family and people. I said, “Now that you have been here, you will forever have a warm place for Israel in your heart. If Israel is in danger, you will be one of the soldiers fighting for it. You will go to the White House to protest. You will do something
"When [we] heard about Birthright’s waiting list, we decided we to make sure that these young people ... would not have to grow old regretting that they never visited Israel." for Israel. You may not know it yet, but you have already delivered me the return on my investment. Your presence here means you are committed to your family. I have received from you much more than I have given you.” I love all Jews, be they from the right or the left. I believe that they are all part of my larger family. At the same time, I want to protect my family. I want my grandchildren and great-grandchildren to be Jewish. If the WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM
situation on the campuses remains as it is, we are in a bad way. Research by Brandeis University showed that Birthright graduates have a 76 percent chance of marrying Jews, compared with 42 percent among those who did not participate in the program, as a result of having gotten stuck on the waiting list. Had we not donated to Birthright, we would have lost many people within a single generation. Even my own two sons went to Israel with Birithright. My son, Adam, called me from Israel and said, “Mom, it has changed my life.” I asked him, “How? You have been to Israel with us dozens of times. You have been to Bedouin tents, to Masada, everywhere. So how come this trip changed your life?” He said it happened to him on Mount Herzl. “We visited the grave of a soldier who was our age, 18, when he was killed,” he said. “We all cried together. Then we went to Yad Vashem. It was at that moment that my friends and I realized the significance of our visit to Israel. We are Israel’s soldiers around the globe.” Sheldon: Our son has mobilized dozens of young people on campus. They filled two Birthright buses. He became sort of a guide. It’s important that, as Jews, we do everything in our power to have more people join. We give Birthright between $20-30 million a year, but it’s not just them. We’ve built a medical school at Ariel University, the Entrepreneurship School at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya and many more ventures. We do not regard this as a payment, but rather as assistance to the Jewish people. Miriam: When I see American Jews who criticize Israel or BDS supporters who pretend to be pro-Israel, I feel a twinge in 18
L’CHAIM SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE • AUGUST 2020
my heart that my brothers and sisters are ignorant of the facts, and that they are filled with anger and hatred. I ache for them, but they are Jewish as far as I’m concerned. Maybe their children will know better. If the BDS movement encourages them to refrain from going to Israel, we will give them a tour to show them the opposite view. In 1988, when I married Sheldon, we used to go to fundraisers for Israel held by members of the American Jewish community. At first, I felt they were just giving money to Israel to clear their consciences. Gradually, I found out about the amount of time — not just money — that they were investing to find out how to help Israel, whether by aiding the integration of immigrants from the Former Soviet Union or by adopting a town in Israel. I think that time is more valuable than money, because it involves investing a piece of your life. American Jews love Israel, except for those who became more liberal. The heart of American Jewry is in Israel. The Israeli soldiers who join the Birthright buses for several days, mingling with young Jews from the United States and other countries earn a great deal from their interaction with the participants. It transforms them. They, too, come to a greater understanding of what they are fighting for, which is not only the state of Israel, but the Jewish people. It’s a life-changing realization for them. Research shows that Birthright influences not only the participants themselves, but also their wider circles. One participant, for example — the daughter of a Christian mother and a Jewish father, who was raised as a Catholic and even sang in the church choir — became connected with her Jewish roots. When she returned home, she converted to Judaism, started to observe Shabbat and attend synagogue. Her brother followed her example, and even her mother converted to
"I think that time is more valuable than money, because it involves investing a piece of your life."
Judaism. I hear stories like this one all the time. I would have liked to reach 80,000 participants every year. It is estimated that 100,000 babies are born every year to Jewish families. Clearly, not all of them will be able to make the journey, for a host of reasons, but I would like to see all the others visiting Israel. Sheldon: I would like to see the alumni continue the project, reinforcing their Judaism and love of Israel even further.
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E D U C AT I O N Rachel Lenard
LEARNING FROM THE PAST BUILDING STUDENT CONNECTIONS TO THE HOLOCAUST THROUGH STORYTELLING BY DEBORAH FRIPP
achel stares calmly at us through the screen. “Caps off!” She says. “Ten thousand caps come off. Caps on! Ten thousand caps go on.” Rachel is telling a scene from Elie Wiesel’s Night. Fifteen-year-old Elie stands with thousands of other inmates at roll call in the Buna Concentration Camp near Auschwitz. They stand in the cold, waiting impatiently for their dinner. They are forced to watch as a fellow inmate, another teenager, is hanged for stealing food. This particular scene spoke to fifteen-year-old Rachel when she read the book. Rachel is not reading the scene from the book, however. She is telling it as a story, in first person and present tense. She is telling it as if she were Elie, as if she were there. We, her listeners, are there with her. 20
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Building A Visceral Connection For several years, I have been trying to figure out how to teach the Holocaust in the high school program of a supplementary religious school. In 2016, my colleagues and I put together a program to teach the Holocaust in our Kindergarten through 8th grade Judaic classes. In that program, we build a solid foundation of knowledge and understanding leading up to high school. When we designed the program, I had planned for the high school portion to be the deep dive, where we taught the most difficult parts of the Holocaust, the parts that were not age-appropriate to discuss before high school. I repeatedly came up against the same problem: time. In our high school program, we get 90 minutes per week for 24 weeks in a year. Even if we devoted that entire time to the Holocaust, we couldn’t begin to scratch
the surface. About a year ago, I had a realization. Teaching the facts and figures of the Holocaust is not the job of a supplementary religious school. The job of a supplementary Jewish school is to build a personal, visceral connection between the students and the story of their people. The job of a good Holocaust program is to build that connection to the story of the Holocaust. A STORYTELLER
When I framed Holocaust education as telling a story, I knew exactly what I needed to do. I needed to talk to Jennifer Rudick Zunikoff, a storyteller and poet who for ten years co-led a class at Goucher College in Baltimore on how to tell survivor stories. Jennifer and her colleagues taught the students to interview survivors and then to
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turn those interviews into stories that they, the students, could tell. The students told the survivors’ stories in first person, as if they themselves had experienced the events. Hearing stories that happened to young people told by young people was powerful. The students’ own connections to the stories was even more powerful. Could we use the same techniques to give our high school students that powerful connection to the stories of the Holocaust? We would have to simplify the process — take out the survivor interviews, for instance — but it could be done. Students could learn stories from hearing them in class, or from primary sources like diaries and memoirs. In fact, diaries opened up an entirely new avenue. With diaries, we could tell stories of victims as well as survivors. The more I thought about this idea, the more excited I got. If this worked, it would not only be a great program for supplementary religious schools. It would also be a perfect capstone project for any school where the students had spent time studying the Holocaust. A PILOT PROGRAM
This spring, we piloted the program at Congregation Kol Ami in Flower Mound, Texas. Ten teens agreed to participate in a storytelling unit. The students heard three adult storytellers tell the stories of survivors and victims of the Holocaust. Then the students chose a story to learn to tell. Some retold scenes from the stories they had heard in class. “Retelling the scene gave me a chance to process the story in a new way,” one student told us. This is the beauty of storytelling. Hearing a story told by a live speaker creates a visceral connection that watching a video does not. Telling the story yourself transforms that connection to a deep emotional attachment.
Others chose stories they had heard in other contexts. Some told family stories. One told the story of a survivor she had met on a trip to Poland, including in the story her own interaction with the survivor. Rachel was among several who chose to tell stories they had read. “This was the one part of Elie’s story that I connected with the most,” she said, “and that was when I knew I had to tell his story.” Throughout the eight weeks of the class, the students learned techniques of storytelling: using first person, telling in present tense, jumping into the scene, and pausing for effect. They practiced their scenes with partners, exchanging appreciations for the work they had done. Not surprisingly, not all the students were comfortable with the idea of oral storytelling. One autistic teen found the improvisational nature of storytelling, even with a single partner, to be anxiety-inducing. We allowed her to write her story out in her own space. In the end, she astounded us with a story of remarkable emotional depth. The students’ responses were everything we had hoped they would be. “When I witnessed the passion of these high school students,” Jennifer told me later, “the way that they shared stories of Holocaust survivors with respect and honesty, I knew that the next generation will ensure that the stories of the Shoah will continue to be told.” STUDENT STORYTELLERS
“Caps off!” Rachel says again. We hold our breath as, once again, ten thousand caps come off. It is two months after the class ended. Rachel is telling her story over Zoom to a group of adults at a Holocaust storytelling workshop at the Summer of NewCAJE, an online Jewish educator’s conference. Her audience consists of professional teachers and
storytellers. Most of the listeners are familiar with Night. Many have taught it. Rachel’s story is all of three minutes long, but the adults who listen to it are left breathless. “Rachel, your voice and tenor and tone interpreted this story in such a powerful way,” one participant tells her. “Your voice resonated both the ordinariness of murders like this and the waiting for dinner — also ordinary — and also the horror and the absolutely out-of-ordinary. Thank you.” By learning to tell the stories of those who experienced the Holocaust, Rachel and her fellow students have become custodians of particular pieces of that memory. At the same time, they have created deep emotional attachments to the stories of the Holocaust and the desire to pass those connections on to others. “The high school [Holocaust storytelling] program gave me a new perspective on learning,” Rachel says. “Not only did I learn how to teach others about the Holocaust, but I also learned a new way to tell stories and bring people together.” This is exactly what a high school Holocaust program should do: Give the students ownership over the stories of those who experienced the Holocaust, and give them the ability and desire to pass those stories on to others. DR. DEBORAH FRIPP IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE TEACH THE SHOAH FOUNDATION. HER WEBSITE, WWW.TEACHTHESHOAH. ORG, PROVIDES RESOURCES ON COMMEMORATING, TEACHING, AND UNDERSTANDING THE HOLOCAUST FOR COMMUNITIES, EDUCATORS, AND FAMILIES. SHE IS ACTIVELY LOOKING FOR SCHOOLS TO PILOT THE NEXT STEPS IN THE HIGH SCHOOL HOLOCAUST STORYTELLING PROGRAM.
FEATURE STORY | BY RABBI-CANTOR CHERI WEISS
MEETING THE COMMUNITY’S NEEDS DURING COVID-19 In just a few short months, the COVID-19 pandemic has cut through the fabric of security, wellness and physical proximity that we once took for granted. With a huge swath of the country in self-imposed or state-mandated quarantine, most organizations have been conducting meetings and programs via Zoom and other online platforms. During this time when people are most in need of comfort, spiritual connection and guidance, the doors of synagogues and other houses of worship remain closed across California. The current ban on indoor worship services has compelled congregations and their spiritual leaders to find new ways to reach out to their participants. This includes our independent congregation, San Diego Outreach Synagogue (SDOS). Since mid-March, we have shifted all of our programs, worship services and classes to online platforms. Our “without walls” synagogue had previously been 22
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meeting once a month in a rented room at a recreation center for Friday night services and a communal Shabbat dinner. SDOS also held discussion programs at local coffee shops, celebrated Jewish holidays in congregants’ homes, and hosted a community Passover Seder and High Holy Days services in a larger rented venue. Although all SDOS in-person gatherings have been suspended since mid-March, we have seized the opportunity to expand our offerings through online platforms. As a “without walls” synagogue with minimal monthly overhead costs, we have increased the frequency of our programs from about twice a month to two to four times per week. We now offer weekly Friday evening musical services and a Havdalah musical program most Saturday evenings. This past April, the SDOS Zoom Seder attracted about 100 people, and our “Introduction to Judaism” class includes participants from across the county and even Rosarito, Mexico. Some of our online services and programs have included guest clergy, musicians, speakers and participants from outside of San Diego.
It is no secret that even prior to the pandemic, Jewish synagogue affiliation was on the decline. The huge edifices that exist today are based on a model that flourished in the 1950s, when Jews in the postwar era moved en masse to the suburbs, erecting structures that would reflect their newfound status as successful citizens who had achieved the American dream. Most synagogues were affiliated with the Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, or Reconstructionist movements. In the late 20th and early 21st century, independent congregations unaffiliated with Jewish denominations emerged across the country. In order to keep expenses down, these new communities rented space in recreation centers, churches, office parks, etc., with most having no intention of owning their own building. Many of these independent, non-denominational congregations have been founded and led by well-known visionaries such as Rabbis Sharon Brous of IKAR and Naomi Levy of Nashuva in Los Angeles. Many synagogues have growing legitimate concerns about attracting and retaining members to pay their considerable fixed expenses. Across the country, many older, established synagogues with dwindling memberships have had to merge (some across denominational lines) just to survive. Other previously thriving congregations have been forced to close altogether due to shifting demographics and diminishing membership. The vast majority of Jews in San Diego County are not affiliated with any congregation. Prior to the current pandemic, if you attended a Shabbat service in most local brick-and-mortar synagogues, you would find no more than a small group of devoted worshippers dotting the landscape of a large sanctuary.
Although most Jews in San Diego County choose not to pay thousands of dollars per year to join an established synagogue, they still want to connect with other Jews, Jewish traditions and practices. Many unaffiliated Jews are interested in finding meaning through the study of Torah and other Jewish texts. They want to celebrate Shabbat and Jewish holidays and hope to understand how Judaism can inform and inspire their lives. They want to be uplifted in prayer but may find this difficult if services are conducted mostly in Hebrew, a language they do not understand. Since most San Diegans who identify as Jews are not interested in the traditional synagogue model, now is the ideal time to offer more accessible and less costly ways to experience Judaism. Before the current pandemic, many synagogues were reluctant to live-stream their services and programs, perhaps out of concern that if people could attend these programs without being physically present, they might not become or remain dues-paying members. Due to the current prolonged closing of houses of worship however, nearly all local synagogues have been compelled to offer their services, classes and events online in order to serve their congregants’ needs. We now have an opportunity to expand our concept of a thriving congregation beyond simply “Jews in the pews” and to think creatively in presenting meaningful opportunities for Jewish prayer, learning, and acts of loving-kindness to those in need. In 2016, I produced and widely distributed my CD, HINENI: Music for the High Holy Days in order to bring the melodies of these sacred holidays to thousands of Jews across the country in hospitals and nursing homes or who were otherwise homebound. This year, SDOS is working to bring our live-streamed musical High Holy Days services at no charge to people in hospitals, nursing homes or retirement communities in San Diego and beyond, so that these individuals will not have to celebrate these holidays alone. The current pandemic presents all congregations the opportunity to expand their outreach and welcome people into their community, even those whose participation may be solely online. We have an amazing chance now to expand our concept of what a spiritual community can be in a post-pandemic society. Most synagogues that simply return to “business as usual” are unlikely to survive in the long-term. This health crisis challenges all Jewish congregations and leaders to adapt to changing circumstances to meet the needs of those they serve as well as those yearning to experience some form of Jewish connection in their lives. Innovation in developing new meaningful ways to help Jews “do Jewish” has been the cornerstone of our survival as a people for thousands of years. By continuing to do so in our evolving world, we will all be the beneficiaries.
FEATURE STORY | BY SHERYL ROWLING & JSOH CLAVELL
Investing in the Time of COVID-19 will help maximize return while lowering risk over time, helping you weather future volatility. Efficient investments with low costs and without hidden fees will keep more money in your pocket long term. An advisor can objectively analyze your specific investments and determine which you might want to keep, and which should be sold and used to diversify. Knowing that you have an efficient, welldiversified portfolio will help quell concerns regarding your specific investments.
t has been a wild ride since the start of the pandemic, and it’s not over yet. We have had some of the most drastic market volatility ever, and the uncertainty is still incredibly high. It is extremely important during these times that the level of risk in your portfolio is aligned with both your tolerance for the risk and need for return. Seek fiduciary advice to help you determine if the level of risk in your current portfolio is needed to achieve the level of return to meet your future goals. Speaking to a fiduciary can help alleviate the fear of the unknown. They can show you what would happen if your portfolio dropped significantly in the next 3 months and how this might affect your financial future. Knowing that you are in the proper portfolio for your personal risk tolerance and future needs can alleviate some of your stress during these uncertain times. If You Have Concerns About Your Portfolio’s Investments Whether you have been with your broker for your entire life or you have taught yourself to build a simple diversified portfolio out of index funds, it is understandable that you may be concerned about your investments. For those who are investing themselves, it might be impossible to keep track of all of the volatility and know what your next move should be. Many people sold out and never bought back in, some people bought bargains at the bottom but are starting to fear for their recent investments, and others are holding on to investments with significant losses, still waiting for a turn around. However, now is not the time to invest with firms who are not required to have your best interest at heart and sell you products that have high commissions or expenses. A fee-only, fiduciary advisor can help you evaluate your current portfolio and recommend a more diversified, less costly approach based on your needs. Diversification 24
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If You Are Overwhelmed By Keeping Up With Your Investments You might have enjoyed managing your own money before, but at this point it would be understandable if you are finding it difficult to maintain your portfolio. Many people have different accounts with different strategies at many locations; it can be a lot to juggle. Maintaining an organized portfolio in particularly volatile times requires discipline, expertise, and often expensive software just to keep track of everything. Trying to do it yourself or spreading out investments between multiple institutions means you might miss out on valuable tax-saving opportunities that having a single strategy with a consistent vision allows. Fiduciary advisors can help you build location optimization into your portfolio, quickly exercise tax loss harvesting opportunities, and regularly rebalance your portfolio, which can help you buy low and sell high during volatile times. Delegating to a fiduciary advisor allows you not only to remove your emotions from the equation, so you don’t make any costly mistakes, but ensures every opportunity is being captured. If You Are Sitting On Cash But Are Nervous About Investing It At This Moment Regardless of how you found yourself in the position of sitting on cash, you might be anxious about your next move. With the markets edging towards all-time highs and COVID burning through the U.S. faster than ever, there is a renewed fear of another significant decline. Once again, the best thing you can do is work with a fee-only fiduciary financial advisor to formulate an investment plan tailored to your comfort level. Hiring a fiduciary can help with the reservations you are feeling about your current investment situation. They can help you align your portfolio with your risk tolerance, choose investments that are diversified and efficient, manage your assets cohesively, and help you invest any new assets strategically.
seniors THERE WHEN YOU
NEED THEM When a community needs a Jewish Federation BY LISA MCGUIGAN Darren Schwartz
wise person once said, “You never know you need a Federation until you need a Federation.” Today, and in the face of what has been a brutal and unrelenting pandemic, our community needs our Federation. For more than 80 years, Jewish Federation has been caring for Jews in need, responding during times of crisis, and building community and connection in San Diego, Israel, and all over the world. In early March, weeks before our entire lives went virtual, Federation was preparing. “We completely pivoted our work to be responsive during the crisis,” Federation’s chief planning and strategy officer, Darren Schwartz said. “This is what we do. We respond. We mobilize. We don’t just look out for individuals. We also support our frontline organizations during these difficult times. We take ‘caring for Jews in need everywhere’ seriously,” said Schwartz. And respond, they did. In partnership with the San Diego Jewish Community Foundation and Leichtag Foundation, the San Diego Jewish Community COVID-19 Emergency Fund was established
to respond to the most immediate needs of our Jewish community. Collectively, the effort raised more than $2.2 million, and the Fund is providing loans to address emergency needs, offer payroll assistance, and provide support for PPE, sanitization, and so much more. “The situation is fluid and constantly changing. We expect the needs to change, and we want to be prepared for that,” Schwartz said. In addition to raising critical funds, Federation wanted to find a way to reach potentially vulnerable and isolated seniors. “Very early on, we established a wellness phone bank to check in on over 2,600 seniors,” Federation’s Donor Engagement Manager, Molly Okun, shared. “Our goal was to ensure they were comfortable in their homes and had access to food, medication, or simply the comfort of a friendly voice.” “This was new territory for us,” Schwartz added. “We had no idea if we could get enough volunteers to be a part of this program, but to our pleasant surprise, over 125 community members stepped up to make this happen. Many are still making regular calls to the seniors today.” Today, volunteers and Federation staff provide regular outreach and even enlisted the help of IT professional, Eric Koster, to support seniors with technology to ensure they have the tools needed to interact in our new virtual world. “I connect with eight seniors weekly,” volunteer Julie Phillips, shared. “They are basically fine, but thoroughly isolated and alone (except for two). I have become welcome company, and we enjoy lengthy conversations about their past, families, cooking, medical appointments, and their fears. I am thankful that my husband was initially on the receiving end of a Federation ‘check-in’ call as it exposed me to this incredible effort and gave me an opportunity to give back.” As we look ahead, much is still unknown. Balancing optimism and precaution has become a necessary pastime, and every day presents new variables and feelings that must be managed and juggled. Still, during this turbulent time, we are constantly reminded that we are fortunate to be a part of our caring, connected, and generous community — and that means something. It means a lot. “We will come out of this,” Schwartz said, “and we will be stronger because of it.” FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE JEWISH FEDERATION OF SAN DIEGO COUNTY OR TO DONATE, VISIT JEWISHINSANDIEGO.ORG. WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM
seniors COVID-19 AND THE JEWISH
Nursing-home admins keep up the battle against the coronavirus while they work to improve their in-house responses and close care of patients BY HEATHER ROBINSON | jns.org A staff member at a senior facility run by the Jewish Association on Aging in Pittsburgh, PA caring for a resident.
Jewish nursing-home administrators in Miami, Pittsburgh and New York discussed how they have coped and are still coping, in addition to the lessons learned and efforts to protect the elderly going forward. One decision they noted was a March 25 mandate by the New York State Department of Health requiring nursing homes to accept coronavirus patients considered to be “medically stable” after being discharged from a hospital, unless facilities could demonstrate that they were unprepared to do so. The order did not require these patients to be tested for COVID-19; in fact, it explicitly said not to. Gov. Andrew Cuomo later rescinded the order, but not before much damage was done, with the virus spreading rapidly among the elderly. States have learned much since then, particularly New York, which flattened its curve before the summer started. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also listed guidelines including mask-wearing, social distancing and handwashing/hygiene care. It also reported, as of July 13, a total of 3,296,599 cases of COVID-19 with 134,884 related deaths in the United States. MIAMI (FLORIDA)
s America’s battle with the novel coronavirus has raged America’s Jewish community has suffered its share of losses, particularly early on when COVID-19 swept through the boroughs of New York City and Upstate New York. No age group has been as widely affected as the elderly, making nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and senior residences ground zero in the battle against the virus, at least at first. While other states in the Northeast — Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania — were also hit hard at the beginning of the pandemic in March and April, cases of infection lessened significantly after months of social distancing and lockdowns. Once thought that the virus would subside as the weather warmed in late spring and summer, that did not happen, and now, swaths of the U.S. South are seeing daily infection rates that rival the worst days in New York City. 26
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Governor: Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) Statewide Mask Mandate: Not required Cases Citywide (Miami-Dade County): 67,712 Cases Statewide: 282,000 Deaths Citywide: 1,143 Deaths Statewide: 4,276 Height of Cases: July 12 (15,000 new cases) Miami Jewish Health is comprised of a 370-bed nursing home, an assisted-living facility that is home to 80, and an independent-living facility for 60. It is the largest nursing home in Southeast Florida, according to president and CEO Jeffrey Freimark. The system has had 57 COVID-19 cases since early March, with 10 residents having died as a result of complications from the virus. “We mourn, but the majority of the folks ... have returned to their home units fully recovered and in good health ... most of that return has been in recent weeks,” said Freimark. In its assisted-living facility, two residents contracted COVID-19,
and both died. Staff members have also tested positive, though no deaths ensued. No one in its independent-living facility has contracted COVID-19. Because Miami Jewish Health is part of the state’s Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) — a nonprofit to assist seniors — its mandate includes taking patients recuperating from hospitals. And since its facilities include hospital-like wings with “the right airflow to treat COVID-19 patients,” they have accepted medically stable COVID-19 patients released from hospitals, according to Freimark. “These units are totally isolated; there’s no herding of COVID-19-positive with anyone else,” said Freimark, adding that employees who work on these units do not interact with uninfected residents. Communal dining has also ended as residents have been in “complete lockdown mode.” “We closed the campus down in advance of the close order; some people were upset by that,” acknowledged Freimark. “But we have started drive-by visits” in which residents’ families can talk with loved ones from their cars at least 10 feet away. As of June 8, they reported only one COVID-19 positive case in the facility. Freimark said the effort to provide residents and staff with PPE has been “front of mind” from the start — masks, gowns, gloves and booties have been bought in huge quantities and reused only after being disinfected and sanitized. “We work with the University of Miami to do the disinfecting and sanitizing,” he said. “An employee is never asked to wear the same PPE without it having gone through the disinfection process.” With help from the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, Miami Jewish Health raised $1 million in a campaign to acquire PPE and to provide additional pay for staff in the facility’s COVID-19-positive areas. “Nursing-home workers who are going in to deal with COVID-19 are no less heroic than any of our country’s health-care workers,” he noted. The virus, however, is surging through the state: Florida reported 15,000 new cases on Sunday, the highest number yet in any state in a single day.
And now heading into hurricane season, Freimark is hoping for the best while preparing for the worst. Between the tsunami of contagion from overseas, the “breakdown in the supply chain” for PPE, and the March 25 mandate, he feels his counterparts in New York got hit with a “perfect storm” in the spring. But now, he and his colleagues are at the center of the storm. “We could find ourselves at the crossroads of a hurricane and a COVID-19 environment with the supply chain again an issue,” he cautioned, “and that would certainly be a challenge.” PITTSBURGH (PENNSYLVANIA)
Governor: Tom Wolf (D-Pa.) Statewide Mask Mandate: Required Cases Citywide (Allegheny County): 5,033 Cases Statewide: 100,000 Deaths Citywide: 198 Deaths Statewide: 6,955 Height of Cases: April/May, but now seeing a slight resurgence Far to the north and on the flip side of the equation, Pittsburgh hasn’t reported a single resident contracting COVID-19 in its Jewish nursing homes or Jewish-agency-run residential facilities to date. “We have worked very hard to protect our elderly, and we recognize that we have been very lucky also,” said Debbie Winn-Horvitz, president and CEO of the Jewish Association on Aging (JAA), which administers several residential facilities, as well as home and community-based services in Pittsburgh. Luck, however, was not the only thing involved. The JAA serves a total of 4,000 seniors, including residents of Weinberg Terrace, Weinberg Village, Riverview Towers, the Charles Morris Nursing & Rehabilitation Center and the Ahava Memory Care Residence, an assisted-living facility. This spring, three JAA staff members came down with COVID-19, but it did not spread to residents. With help from the United Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh and other Jewish organizations, Winn-Horvitz’s staff has been able to procure PPE, and she believes that this has made a real difference. Pittsburgh’s JAA facilities have “hundreds of protocols in place” regulating cleaning,
staff/patient interactions and PPE, said Winn-Horvitz. All staff members are required to wear masks, gowns and gloves, and change them immediately after leaving an individual’s room. Direct patient-care workers “also wear face shields.” PPE is not reused. The first staffer who came down with COVID-19 is a “direct patient-care worker,” said Winn-Horvitz. She reported not feeling well, was sent home immediately, and after receiving a positive test stayed home until she recovered and tested negative. She has since returned to work. As of July 13, three JAA employees have tested positive — the first on April 26, the others on July 2 and July 8, consistent with the recent spike of the coronavirus in Western Pennsylvania. As of July 13, no elderly residents have come down with the disease, according to Tinsy Labrie, director of marketing and public relations for Pittsburgh’s JAA. Other staff protocols at Pittsburgh’s JAA facilities include “strictly changing PPE from room to room, changing out of street clothes and into scrubs when they come in to work,” and multiple separate break areas for staff working with different populations, “so that if, God forbid, it were to break out in one area, we don’t want it to spread,” said WinnHorvitz. Communal dining has been suspended for months. Staff members do, however, help residents participate in modified social activities from their rooms. “They play ‘rolling Bingo,’ where one person at the end of the hall calls out the numbers to them in their rooms,” she described. Other activities include exercise classes from the doorways of their rooms, as well as recent dress-up and singalong from their doorways for the home opener of the Pittsburgh Pirates. There is also some limited visiting with family through Plexiglass barriers. In addition to Pittsburgh’s Federation, Winn-Horvitz has expressed appreciation to the Association of Jewish Aging Services (AJAS) and the Jewish Federations of North America for helping to secure supplies. Winn-Horvitz said she was grateful that she didn’t have to contend with an order to accept COVID-19-infected hospital patients WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM
in homes with other elderly residents as her counterparts in New York did early on when the coronavirus overwhelmed the city. “I disagreed with Cuomo’s decision,” said Winn-Horvitz. “Not every facility was prepared” to handle that. As cases spike in Pittsburgh’s Allegheny County, Winn-Horvitz said she is working to obtain resources to meet the state’s requirement that all nursing-home staff and residents be tested for COVID-19 by July 26. She added, “I don’t take anything for granted because we could be next,” as Western Pennsylvania has begun to experience another spike. Nonetheless, she says “all our residents remain COVID-19 free, and we are trying to keep it that way.” NEW YORK CITY (NEW YORK)
Governor: Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) Statewide Mask Mandate: Required Cases Citywide: 224,000 Cases Statewide: 407,000 Deaths Citywide: 22,795 Deaths Statewide: 32,075 Height of Cases: March and April According to figures released in a report this week by state health officials, some 6,500 nursing-home residents have died of COVID-19 out of a total 100,000 nursinghome residents in the state’s 613 facilities. Jewish institutions have not escaped significant loss. Stuart Almer, chief executive of Gurwin Healthcare Systems in Commack, N.Y., a 460-bed nursing home with other facilities, explained that it stocked up on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and created an “isolation unit” in February in anticipation of coronavirus cases. “We knew [similar infections] had happened in Seattle, so my instruction was, ‘Let’s get as many masks, gowns and gloves as we can,’ “ recalled Almer. The home also purchased Plexiglass panels to create the COVID-19 isolation unit. As of March 25, when New York State’s health department under Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered nursing homes to admit COVID-19-infected elderly from hospitals, Gurwin had one COVID-19 infected resident. Since then, 60 Gurwin residents have died from COVID-19 in its nursing home, and 13 have died in its assisted-living facility. In the nursing home, 150 residents have recovered, 28
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and the facility has now reported zero cases of COVID-19. Of 1,200 staff members, including nurses, health aides, administrators, and janitors, 130 tested positive for COVID-19, and one “beloved member of the housekeeping staff” has died, said Almer. A disproportionate number of deaths at Gurwin took place among the “dementia population,” said Almer. Despite tremendous efforts by Gurwin’s staff, infection spread there partly because “they are more challenging to direct,” noted Almer. “Our staff did all they could … I’m very proud of them.” At present, all staff is screened daily upon entrance with temperature checks. Additionally, Gurwin tests every employee weekly for COVID-19. Almer is thankful to UJA-Federation of New York and the Association of Jewish Aging Services (AJAS) for helping to supplement Gurwin’s supply of PPE, and said additional support for more PPE and more testing — the costs of which he describes as “astronomical” — would “go a long way” to help ensure the facility remains COVID-19free. Family and friends from outside the facility have been prohibited from visiting residents “for months,” according to Almer, who in solidarity with families didn’t see his 89-year-old father, who lives in the facility, for three months. In case of a future surge, vacant buildings, he said, including in nearby Suffolk County, could be secured by the state as dedicated COVID-19 treatment facilities. “There could be a [designated] COVID-positive facility in each county,” he suggested, emphasizing that discussion of the issue is not a matter of blame, but an opportunity for all parties to learn, which he noted is a Jewish value. Dr. Jeffrey Farber, president and CEO of the New Jewish Home, a health system that includes a nursing home in Mamaroneck, N.Y., and multiple elder-care facilities in Manhattan, the Bronx and Westchester, N.Y., stressed the importance of advances in testing to prevent a repeat of the COVID-19 spread in New York’s nursing homes. In total, the New Jewish Home lost 58 residents due to COVID-19, with nearly 300 recovered. Two remaining COVID-19positive residents are in the process of full
recoveries. Farber says he doesn’t blame Cuomo’s March 25 order for the spread of coronavirus in New York’s nursing homes. Citing this week’s report by the New York State Department of Health, he pointed to communal spread among New York’s population, including nursing-home workers, as a likely cause of infection. “The latest numbers are 20 percent. In communities with more density and reliance on public transportation, 30 or 40 percent” of New Yorkers have had exposure to the virus, “including asymptomatic disease,” he said. To prevent another uptick in cases and deaths, Farber stressed that continued testing is key. He also suggested that facilities seek out any available aid to conduct as much testing as possible, including “point of care” tests. “If you have those kinds of tests, then you can really do what we were unable to do and keep [the virus] out of the building,” he advised. In addition to regular testing of staff and residents, other measures the New Jewish Home is taking to protect residents include suspending visitors for the time being. Farber said his facility has “largely been on its own” paying for and securing PPE for staff, that “price gouging continues,” and that he has six employees working full-time on sourcing and procuring PPE. All employees wear N-95 masks, gowns and gloves, but “we didn’t and don’t have anywhere near adequate PPE to discard PPE after every patient [interaction],” he acknowledged. Instead, PPE is carefully managed so that individual workers can reuse their own N-95 masks after they sit for five days, considered more than ample time for the virus to die. Asked what help he and others would appreciate from the Jewish community, he said that assistance in procuring and buying more PPE “would free up more employees to focus on patient care.” He repeated that PPE — and more testing — at elder facilities remains crucial to put in place before, he cautioned, “the next wave.” Editor’s Note: Statistics listed in this article are from Worldometers.info, dated 7/13/2020.
CREATING POSITIVITY OUT OF UNCERTAINTY
he world continues to face uncertainty and what was recently referred to as “unprecedented times” is now the new norm. The global Coronavirus pandemic is affecting families, businesses, communities, organizations, and ways of life. Jewish National Fund (JNF) extends its heartfelt wishes for a full recovery to anyone in the San Diego community that is ill. Our hearts go out to anyone who has been impacted by this virus, either directly or indirectly, and we remain hopeful for a brighter tomorrow. At Jewish National Fund, we are focusing on the health and safety of our employees, families, communities, and Israel. We are an organization about family and people, and have taken bold action to ensure that not only is our family here in the U.S. safe, but also our brothers and sisters in Israel, who have also been deeply affected by this global crisis. The global pandemic is uncharted territory for all of us. JNF is working to make sure that social distancing does not lead to the conversational distancing of JNF’s message—working toward a brighter future for all who call Israel home. We are the doers. We believe we can take the uncertainty of today and create something positive. As communities throughout the U.S. faced strict social distancing measures, Jewish National Fund immediately launched a suite of live and On Demand interactive Zoom programming to help members of the community feel and remain connected throughout quarantine and still today. Nationally, we are holding a myriad of live and interactive Zoom events, including educational programs that tell the story of Israel’s independence; guest speakers like Marina Furman, a refusenik telling her story of coming home to Israel after being denied the right to freedom when she lived in the Former Soviet Union and fought hard—nearly dying—for that freedom; and a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the making of the hit Israeli TV series “Fauda,” which has captivated audiences around the world, from the U.S. and beyond— even to Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates! Locally and across the country, we are hosting JNFuture Virtual Shabbat Experiences every Friday at 5:30 pm in each time zone for our young philanthropists, ages 22-40, so they can continue to experience the joy of welcoming Shabbat with friends. We have also migrated our Board of Directors meetings, parlor meetings, Women for Israel gatherings, and the many other local JNF San Diego events online for everyone’s safety and well-being. Visit jnf.org/ondemand for all of our On Demand activities.
Tourism is Israel’s economic bloodline, and as a result of the Coronavirus, tourism in Israel has dried up. In one day, over 100,000 Israelis tried registering for unemployment benefits as the pandemic swept across Israel, with over 1 million out of work. To mitigate the economic impact, Jewish National Fund is working with its affiliates in Israel and has launched a home shopping network called “Online Mitzvah Marketplace: Shop Israeli Goods.” JNF is inviting small businesses in Israel’s north and south to come on our show, being filmed at the JNF Western Galilee Tourist Information Center in Akko, to talk about and display the products they sell. People can view and buy these products online, which are shipped to the U.S. The Marketplace is bringing together vendors—from wine to jewelry, to ceramics and cosmetics—to help generate income and stimulate Israel’s economy, and new shows are recorded every day. This initiative will help Israeli businesses to operate outside of their traditional business model, which relies on foot traffic from tourists. Visit jnf. org/shopping for more information. But that’s not enough. Even as Israel begins to re-open, it’s clear the summer’s tourism season won’t be as robust as usual. To help Israel’s economy rebound and to satisfy our travel bug, JNF is helping Israel come to you, from the comfort of your own home. Jewish National Fund’s Virtual Tours allow you to experience Israel at a time when you can’t physically travel there. These are five-day tours with a “busload” of 25 participants, including a licensed Israeli tour guide that lets you experience biblical and modern Israel, famous tourist and off-thebeaten-path sites, JNF projects and places, and other hidden gems. To date, more than 100 Virtual Tours and over 2,500 tourists have “visited” Israel, and each participant’s registration directly supports our Israeli tour guide at a time when it’s needed most. Take a virtual trip to Israel at jnf.org/virtualtours. Together, we are helping and showing all the people of Israel that we are with them, we are thinking of them, and we know they are thinking of us. Here at home, Jewish National Fund is not only “Your Voice in Israel,” JNF is family, and while other organizations call you “donors,” we call you “partners,” because you are our partner for ensuring a prosperous future for the land and people of Israel. For more information and to get involved, contact San Diego Director Monica Edelman at email@example.com or 858.824.9178 x988. WWW.LCHAIMMAGAZINE.COM