Topping the Best

Posted on May 13, 2015

Yerucham, Israel May 12, 2015

Last night I went to bed with a smile on my face as I experienced the Simcha of a new Torah and the sounds of Yerucham’s children at play. How could that be topped? Nu?

This morning we visited the Community Senior Citizen Day Center.

It is open to all, is a not for profit funded in part by Greater Miami Jewish Federation.

Two hot meals are served to the participants better. Transportation is available for those who need it.

A look around the room reveals many different ethnic groups.

We are taken to participate in the exercise class (as the only non-senior citizen of the group, I am relegated to snapping pictures)

Lynn and Jackie jump right in with our instructor Yuri. The first set of exercises was stretching. Each participant followed Yuri’s lead until Jackie out-stretched the teacher.

Benny Goodman’s Swing Swing Swing and Zorra were playing in the background and I kept the beat.

Soon the song changed to a waltz and Lynne and her dancing partner danced like they were in Vienna. Jackie, not to be out-done, followed while Yuri led her in the Tango.

Showers and daily hygiene are provided. As most of the participants live independently, a “life alert” system is provided. Should an emergency occur help is only “a touch of a button away.”

The community center has a gerontologist, Orly Avigal, and provides social services as well as some psychological services.

The bomb shelter (required in each building) doubles as the Snoozelin, a room for relaxation, meditation and sensory stimulation. Individual and group therapy sessions are conducted.

Leaving there I run into my model, Zorra, whose picture I take and she loves it. With some help we talk about where she is from and what I am doing (lets face it -a stranger with a fancy camera and a big lens attracts attention).

There are two young female soldiers sitting with a group. Yehudi Rosenfeld is the Commander of New Immigrants. When her service is over she will live in Yerucham. Yerucham Soldier

Amal P is knitting for one of her 17 grandchildren. We compare grandparent notes and I think that my daughters better start catching up. (Note to Gail – better start knitting all those blankets.) I tell Amal that she shares a hobby with my wife and she is even using the same color yarn as Gail’s last blanket for the granddaughter of our friend in Ashkelon.

I am pulled away to be shown a piece of artwork. “Hands on the Wall” was done by Taglit volunteers from Miami.

Malka Briman is a survivor of the ghetto of Vinisa, Ukraine where she spent WWII.  She not only survived the Nazi invasion of the Ukraine but the Stalin era that followed.  Vinisa is near Saslov where 110 years ago my family left for Florida.  Malka and I have another connection as Malka is a special name for me as it is the Hebrew name of my bride.

This Malka has 3 children, 7 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild.

Sitting next to her was Rosa Bette Sherma whose smile lit up the room. She was from Sabalooka Ukraine.

In the back room a woman plays rummi-cube (I told you you should have come Gail – who is now saying “you were right dear”).

Yerucham Fellow photographerA 95 year old photographer whose name I forgot to write down as we were comparing notes and cameras and taking each other’s picture.

A group of women are embroidering challa covers for Shabbat. Raquel Garzuka is 94 years old and comes to Yerucham from India. Her needle work is superb as is that of the five other women. Raquel presents me with a Challa Cover, I am so touched that I almost cry.

Yerucham indian woman embroidery Howard and Indiand Woman

So now I know how to top the best day of the trip. I can’t wait until tomorrow.

Howard Schneider