Annenberg School of Nursing Celebrates Class of 2023
Spring carries with it the sweet smell of new beginnings, and so it was this past April that graduates of the Annenberg School of Nursing’s class of 2023 gathered together to mark the culmination of their studies and the start of a fresh chapter as licensed healthcare professionals.
A program of Los Angeles Jewish Health (LAJH), the Annenberg School is a premier destination for nursing education and a prime launching pad for high-impact nursing careers. This year’s 20 graduates were joined by more than 300 family members, friends, and LAJH staff to celebrate their achievements and to help send them off to their exciting futures in healthcare.
Benefitting from a return to in-person classes as school resumed its normal pace in the wake of the pandemic, the graduates gained critical, hands-on experience that prepared them well for their next step.
“They are all getting ready for the state board now, and I’m pleased to say that, thanks to our small cohort and individualized, one-on-one teaching, our passing rates for that exam exceed the state average,” says Amandeep Kaur, the school’s director. “I am confident our most recent graduates will distinguish themselves with their performance!”
The graduation ceremony itself was also in-person – the first one in three years to take place inside, as the past few years, health regulations required a drive-up ceremony in the nursing school parking lot. “We are so thrilled to have been able to share this year’s experience with everyone gathered together.” Amandeep says. “It wouldn’t have been possible without the critical support we received from the talented and caring staff of Los Angeles Jewish Health, its board of directors, and our board of directors at Annenberg School of Nursing.”
The program featured three student speakers including Talin Oz, class valedictorian. “We have worked so hard, gotten through long nights studying, early morning clinicals, and supported each other along the way to be here,” she said in her speech, also noting that the expertise, guidance, and mentorship of Annenberg faculty and staff were “priceless and instrumental in shaping us into the nurses we are today.”
Nina Heckathorn, who won the prestigious Florence Nightingale Award, also offered remarks at the event. “Theodore Roosevelt said, ‘Nothing worth having comes easy,’ and he must have had us in mind,” she said. “We have all collectively been pushed to our absolute limits and stretched beyond imagination, yet in our stretching we’ve learned not just about our chosen field but about ourselves. Now I can say, without a doubt, it was truly worth it!”
The third graduation speaker was Kanoko Jones, who offered heartfelt congratulations to her peers. “We made it!” she enthused. “We persevered, and we overcame. I am so proud of each and every one of us.”
For members of the class of 2023, persevering was not always easy. “This class was unique in its own way. We had students who lost family members during the program, as well as some who went through divorce, and others who were suffering from serious medical conditions,” Amandeep says. “But they kept fighting on, and I have such tremendous respect for them. Annenberg is really a special place, and our most recent graduates have made it even more so.”
Making Music at Los Angeles Jewish Health
Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche noted that, “Without music, life would be a mistake.” Celebrating life – and the music that makes it worthwhile – is the focus of therapeutic music services at Los Angeles Jewish Health (LAJH).
Conducted in partnership with the Music Therapy program at California State University, Northridge (CSUN), Los Angeles Jewish Health’s therapeutic music services bring CSUN students to the LAJH campus to stimulate and engage residents with population-appropriate activities. The students – juniors and seniors at CSUN – are working toward their Bachelor of Arts in Music Therapy; once they complete their degree, finish a six-month internship (including 1,200 hours of clinical training), and pass a board certification exam, they become board-certified music therapists. CSUN’s Music Therapy program – an important and growing major at the nexus of healthcare and music – is the only one in the California State University system.
“Music therapy helps promote functional changes in behavior,” says Hilary Yip, chair of Music Therapy at CSUN. “It’s based on science – understanding how our bodies and brains react and respond to music. Music therapists work with people from infancy through their senior years, boosting their social and emotional skills, cognitive and motor skills, and the ability to communicate. For instance, music can help reduce the suffering of adolescents with depression and anxiety and assist adults with dementia in accessing their memories.”
Los Angeles Jewish Health’s collaboration with CSUN is new, and Stacy Orbach, LAJH’s director of volunteer services, is already seeing results. “It’s a win-win situation because the students get experience in their field, and our residents benefit from afternoons filled with music and joy,” she says. “Music is so powerful: It can bring older adults back to a particular time and place in their lives. I’ve been amazed watching their reactions as they travel that path.”
Music has always played a central role at Los Angeles Jewish Health, and volunteers frequently visit to share their talents with residents. But the joint effort with CSUN pairs music enjoyment with a more scientific approach.
“One of the things that’s remarkable about the CSUN partnership is that it both benefits our seniors by making them feel good, and it is also data driven, producing findings that can contribute to the body of medical knowledge about aging and potentially improving seniors’ quality of life down the line,” says Dale Surowitz, chief executive officer and president of Los Angeles Jewish Health.
The program is equally beneficial for the students, enabling them to acquire hands-on experience of going into the community and working with clients. “In class, they’re just playing music for each other, but at Los Angeles Jewish Health, they can witness, first-hand, how their music brings a smile to seniors’ faces,” Hilary says. “It’s so rewarding for them to elicit that reaction and to see how they can use music to impact someone else.”
As part of the partnership, Stacy and LAJH Special Programs Coordinator Julie Lockman-Gold make presentations to CSUN Music Therapy students at the start of each semester, introducing them to Los Angeles Jewish Health and to the needs of its senior population. Over the course of the semester, the students build warm relationships with LAJH residents, forming bonds that enhance the seniors’ sense of fulfillment and well-being.
“Our residents couldn’t be more enthusiastic about these interactions,” Julie says. “At the end of every session, they encourage the students to come back any time.”
Early response to the program has made it a standout success. “I’m so delighted by the feedback we’ve received from our seniors,” Stacy says. “We’re in this partnership for the long term.”
Andrew Berman Celebrated at Los Angeles Jewish Health Circle of Life Gala
Proceeds from Event Expected to Raise $325,000
LOS ANGELES, CA – May 1, 2023) Andrew Berman, Chair of the Board for Los
Angeles Jewish Health (LAJH), formerly Los Angeles Jewish Home, was honored
recently by The Executives, a Support Group of Los Angeles Jewish Health at
their Circle of Life Gala. The evening event held at the Stephen Wise Temple,
April 30, included a crowd of community and religious leaders, his loving family
and LAJH residents and staﬀ. The tribute celebrated Berman's active
participation and numerous contributions to Los Angeles Jewish Health over the
years and highlighted his two terms as Chair of the leading non-profit
organization where 4,000 seniors are cared for each year.
Berman, an entertainment executive, is credited with working to ensure the
growth and sustainability of LAJH at a time when many senior care facilities
across the country were forced to go out of business over recent years. He was
instrumental in helping to ensure LAJH remained on the forefront of excellent
care throughout the COVID pandemic taking all measures to keep residents and
participants healthy. His eﬀorts helped to quickly start to rebuild the numbers
of those served by LAJH as soon as admissions were able to reopen. To ensure the
future growth and sustainability of the organization, Berman led the charge for
the century old organization to enhance their marketing eﬀorts. This included
taking the bold step to update the name from Los Angeles Jewish Home to Los
Angeles Jewish Health, a name that better reflects the vast selection of
programs, services, and living options oﬀered to older adults from throughout
In commenting on Berman's special recognition Dale Surowitz, Chief Executive
Officer and President of Los Angeles Jewish Health shared, "I have had the
pleasure of working with many volunteer leaders over the years. Andy sets the
bar for all who take on the role of Chair for any non-profit organization. He is
hands on and his energy and commitment bring out the best in all of us. I
consider him a great leader, partner and friend."
Andrew Berman with Danny Rosett and Ira Halpern, Gala Co-Chairs.
The special evening premiered a new LAJH video showcasing all of the many
living options, services and programs available. Then, the highlight of the
evening was a tribute video about Berman where staff, volunteer leadership,
family members and Rabbi David Woznica of Stephen Wise Temple spoke of the
extraordinary contributions of time and talent Berman has made, not only at Los
Angele Jewish Health, but throughout the Los Angeles Community throughout his
Proceeds from the evening are expected to reach $325,000.