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August 12, 2011     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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August 12, 2011

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... L ....... g,. ,L, .... ).. L,J.WI~,At, JL.L.Ili~LUJII~.,kAka-, .~,,,~k~,,J,,~-.,. .......... ,.,~, .... :-~ ~, ~ - :- -' PAGE 8A Laughing over lemonade Pare Ruben (c) gives tips at a writing seminar to Jewish Pavilion program directors, from left: Roxane Abelow, Judy Procell, Julie Levitt and Flory Kahn. upsetting, it is the writer's job to look at the situation through another lens. She suggested that stories written for the Heritage Florida Jewish News and other papers shouldalways be written with a new angle. Program directors may want to look at the events they plan for seniors through the eyes of the residents in long-term care communities. She recom- mended interviews, anecdotes and quotes to enhance the written word. The Jewish Pavilion employs four part-time program direc- tors who are each responsible for approximately a dozen se- nior communities on their side of town.The staff includes Rox- ane Abelow, Longwood, Lake Mary and Sanford; Flory Kahn. South Orlando and downtown Orlando; Julie Levitt, Maitland, Altamonte Springs, Apopka and Casselberry; and Judy Pro: cell, Oviedo. Winter Springs and Winter Park. While interviewing Pat HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 12, 2011 "Laughing Over Lemonade; Learning to Laugh Whe~ Life Gives You Lemons" was the title of the writing lesson Aug. 3 presented by Pare Ruben to the Jewish Pavilion program directors. The titlewas selected because the presentation in- cluded excerpts from a book Ruben is writing with the same title. Ruben. founder of Peppery Press, explained that while aspects of life for residents in nursing homes can be very Rubenstein for her Volunteer of the Year Award, Rubenstein shared a story that Ruben repeated in her training ses- sion to show the impact of an anecdote. Ruberl wrote, "87-year-old Walter Danzinger speaks only one time each week, when there is a prayer book in his hand, during a Shah- bat service provided by the Jewish Pavilion. Last Friday, Danzinger participated in Shabbat services at Savannah Court along with several Pa- vilion volunteers who led this mini-congregation through traditional Sabbath songs and prayers. Initially, Danzinger sat quietly in the background unable to read the passages in the prayer book, but as the service progressed his Hebrew chanting blended in with his fellow congregants. "Though Walter's memory is failing, and he may have little recollection of what he did an hour ago, Rubenstein explained that 'the prayers from his childhood came flooding back. The Pavilion gave him the gift of memory as we prayed together.'" Following services, Pavilion volunteers kibitzed with the residents enjoying Shabbat delicacies such as blintzes and challah. Rubenstein added, "Sometimeswejust chat; other times the senior may need to vent and you are the only one there to listen." The Jewish Pavilion provides Jewish programming as well as regular companionship to elders in long-term care in more than 45 independent. assisted and skilled nursing facilities in central Florida. The Pavilion connects seniors like Walter Danzinger, with members of the Jewish com- munity, providing them with an extended family in their "homes away form home." Levitt. the program director overseeing Savannah Court, says, "Our organization makes . . sure that all Jewish seniors in long-term care have a place to be Jewish. That's why our volunteers are so dear to us. With their assistance we can provide avoice for all the Jew- ish elderly in Orlando." Ruben has helped the pro- gram directors of the Jewish Pavilion discover their voice through-mbnthly writing workshops. Nancy Ludin, executive director at the Jew- ish Pavilion, says, "We are eternally grateful to Pare for teaching us how to add pizzazz to our writing in an effort to share the work of the Jewish Pavilion with members of the community. Pare is a superb and inspirational teacher and we are thrilled that she is wiling to share her talents with the staff at the Jewish Pavilion. "' For more information on the Pavilion call 407-678-9363 or visit To learn more about Pare Ru- "ben, visit www.pepperypress. com. Meet Wendy Levine, the voice behind the Jewish Pavilion By Pamela Ruben Jewish Pavilion Volunteer Office manager Wendy Levine is the voice behind the Jewish Pavilion, as well as an advocate for the seniors the organization serves in assisted living and skilled nursing homes in Central Florida. If youwere to phone the Pavilion at 407-678~9363. you would most likely find Levine on the other end of the line. ready to lend a hand with a. "Hello. this is Wendy Levine (from the Jewish Pavilion). How can I help you? .... Levin~ follows through with her Dr0mi of assistant0 helping anyone who calls the Pavilion with questions regarding the Jewish elderly in long-term care facilities. If she can't find the answer for the caller, she will find a resource that can, often punt- ing to executive director Nancy Ludin for guidance, which she refers to as "the force behind the Pavilion." Recently, Levine received a call from a volunteer, offer- ing _a wheelchair donation. Initially, Levine responded that the Jewish Pavilion does not typically handle medical equipment, which she shared ByAlex Weisler PARIS (JTA) It's hard to think of a more innocuous word for most American Jews than "community." But in France, things aren't so simple. France's national ethos frowns upon displays of ethnic difference. So formany French Jews, the word "community" conveys a sense of separatism and insularity that clashes with the way they see their lives: French first, Jewish second. That, in turn. causes head- aches for France's Jewish com- munity centers or "centres communautaires," as they are known. "When you say 'Jewish community,' it's considered segregation and then it's not is usually supplied by Medi- care. Levine hesitated for a moment, and then began trouble shooting on a way to make this donation work, offering a satisfying outcome for the kindly donor, as well as a seat for a needy senior. Levine offered to alert the Pavilion'~ four area program directors, who serve seniors in more than 40 assisted liv- ing homes with programming and companionship, about the availability of a wheelchair. The program directors know their semors and their needs. making them the best resource for managirag ~his donation_ In 0n0 fiu0.minuto e0numa- tion Levine made a volunteer happy, helped a senior and utilized available resources... a process that would continue throughout her workday. Levine fulfills many duties as office manager of The Pa- vilion, but that's not all.., she offers the organization her personal time. as well. Her involvement with the Jewish Pavilion began on a volunteer basis, when she filled in at the office as needed, joining the team of more than 400 vol- unteers that allow the Pavilion to 9ffer personalized attention and Jewish programming to its seniors. When the position of office manager became avail- able, she was a natural fit, but continued with her volunteer- ism, as well. "I am very lucky that my job is also my passion," Levine Says. "I love what I do. How many people get to go to work and make a difference in the life of a senior at the same time?" Levine continues her sup- port for the senior commu- nity outside of the office each month, where she assists with Shabbat prayers and holiday programming, serving as a Pavilion volunteer at The Heritage at Lake Forest. an inde endon and adsted llv- ing facility. This "home away from home" holds a special place in her heart, as her own elderly parents reside there. and attend Pavilion program- ming, as well. As a caregiver and advocate on behalf of her parents, Levine is attuned to the needs of se- niors, many of whom have no familyin the area. She reaches out to the "congregation" during the service, offering each resident a chance to read and participate. She connects with the elderly residents, en- couraging them to share their Jewish ex!0eriences growing up, or while raising a family. Many seniors, even those with limited memory, can vividly recall childhood holidays and family traditions. This bond makes Shabbat a cherished activity at The Heritage, and allows residents to maintain their Jewish ties. as the Pavil- ion carries their "synagogue" rightto their front door, aswell as to more than 40 area homes with Jewish residents. Levine relocated to the Orlando area three years ago from South Florida. The Levine family was ready for a move. which coincided with their aging parents need to relocate from independent living to an assisted living -home. Her father. Sidney Ring, needed minor assistance with daily activities, while her mother. Helen. suffered from Alzheimer's disease, requiring complete care and memory assistance. A friend referred her to the Jewish Pavilion. She then looked on the Pavilion website (www.jewishpavili0n.0rg) and investigated the facilities the Pavilion visits. After visiting numerous facilities she called the Agency for Healthcare Administration to check out survey results of each facil- Wendll Levine ity. She found The Heritage received high marks and met the needs of both her parents. Three years later. Wen@ and her husband. Mark. can be found brunching with her parents, a family tradition that began more than 40 years ago. with the birth of her first daughter. Nowe instead of sharing breakfast in their hometown near Detroit, they break bread together at the as- sisted living home in Sanford. Wendy's mother's memory has declined through the passing years and she is no longer able to recognize her daughter, but French Jewry rethinks its JCCs, with a focus on culture over 'community' French enough," said Smadar Bar-Akiva, executive director of the World Confederation of Jewish Community Centers. "It's interesting because in other countries, community is the most important thing." The issue is distracting enough that the Fonds 8ocial JuifUnifie, or FSJU the um- brella group that coordinates most aspects of communal French Jewish life is con- sidering changing the name of the centers, removing the emphasis on community and stressing something that better reflects the facilities' commitment to culture and identity. "We're working now on improving the image of the JCC," said Jo Amar, the FSJU's director of cultural action. "We feel for a longtime thatwe have a problem." Though plans for change are far from set in stone, rep- resentatives of some French community centers said that a shift could be welcome. "The spirit is to find a bal- ance between community center and cultural center." said Sharon Mohar, an Israeli transplant who coordinates cultural efforts for a center serving the 2,000-family Jew- ish community in Bordeaux. The question is also tied to how the centers relate to non-Jews. Mohar recalled an instance in which some older members of his community cautioned against allowing non-Jews to attend a commu- nity-run preschool, fearing that they would scare away Bordeaux Jews. Instead. she found that a policy of openness ended up appealing to Jews. "In 2011, most people are just people, and it's not that it's less important for them to keep Jewish...but I think they are truly trying to find a balance between this part and the rest;' she said. "The balance is criti- cal [otherwise], we're talking about a ghetto, and that's not the reality people want:' Ilan Levy, who coordinates cultural programs"for the 3-year-old Hillel building serv- ing the Jewish community in Lyon, France's second-largest city, Said Jews tend to be more apt to attend events that target non-Jews, too. "If we make events for all the people, then the others come and the Jews say, 'Oh, if the others come, then we can go,'" Levy said. At France's largest Jewish community center in Paris-- catering to the country's larg- est Jewish community--there is a renewed focus on bringing in new audiences and inter- acting with them virtually, said Jean-Francois Strouf. the center's communications coordinator. The center is developing an online university teaching Jewish and non-Jewish topics. The first of its kind in France, the project recently received funding from the Paris re- gional government and should be operational by 2013. The facility prides itself on providing the Paris com- munity with a well-rounded slate of programming~not is appreciative of the company, making visits both a sad and happy occasion. Levine treasures time spent with her parents, and her visits help advocate on their behalf, as she is able to keep tabs on their healthfulness and anticipate their future needs throughlJersonal connections with the nursing staff. Studies show that staff in elder facili- ties feel more accountable to patients with regular visitors. which makes Levine's visits, as those by Pavilion volunteers. additionally important. In addition. Levine keeps up with Medicare changes, as well ~ew programs. ha[ may affect, or possibly aid. her parents' quality of care. "'I feel very blessed to work for an agency that I support." Levinesays. "both in the office and in my daily life. It is a gift to be able to earn a livingwhile supporting a cause." For more information on the Jewish Pavilion. or to talk to Levine about elder concerns or to'volunteer contact www. You may also call 407-678-9363 tospeak with her, or executive director Nancy Ludin directly. Pamela Ruben is a local author and educator. discriminating on the basis of religmn or, within Judaism, by denomination. "It appears that a commu- nity c~nter in the United States is a kind of private club," said the facility's director. Rafy Marceanu, citing sometimes high membership fees and perks such as pools and fitness centers. "In France it is the place of all Jews, and everybody finds his place" Regarding the larger rethink- ing of JCCs' identities, the FSJU's plan is still a work in progress. and each center will have the ability to ,make its own choices about any future name change. But Amar said the conversation is still worth having. "We want to put it on the table and revisit the whole notion," he said.