Michal Robins: Living Life to the Fullest

Connections to Care Mobile Hero
Home / News & Events / Newsletter / Michal Robins: Living Life to the Fullest

Michal Robins: Living Life to the Fullest

Dec 2, 2016
The meaning of life is to find your gift.
The purpose of life is to give it away.
~ Pablo Picasso

Finding one’s gift is often a lifelong pursuit. Sadly, many people never realize their gift, and others do but fail to act. For those who do realize their gift, it can become the driving force in their lives, enabling them to accomplish much, often beyond their dreams. Some fortunate individuals are blessed with multiple gifts, which combine to create a very interesting and meaningful life.

Los Angeles Jewish Home resident Michal Robins, age 75, is a musician, composer, singer, researcher, writer, and behavior therapist. As a young woman, she worked as a model in Israel and studied music at The Juilliard School; as an adult, she developed homes for people with developmental disabilities and provided music therapy at senior centers. Her talents have taken her from performing at the legendary Copacabana in New York City to opening a day care center for the elderly and disabled individuals in California. Her unique combination of gifts have led her to live a most interesting life.

Old woman playing piano

Michal began studying piano with her mother at the tender age of four. Soon she was playing classical music and improvising jazz. Her musical talent resulted in a scholarship to Juilliard. After her studies, she returned to Israel, where she met her future husband, an American who volunteered in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) as a paratrooper. The couple lived in New York and Israel, and had three sons, Gabriel, Sinai and Shani. Michal continued her career as a singer, accompanying herself on the piano.

After 14 years of marriage, the couple went their separate ways; Michal and her sons relocated to Los Angeles, where she continued to pursue a career in musical entertainment. As the show business world began to lose its patina, Michal, now age 36, returned to school to pursue another interest: psychology. She first earned a bachelor’s degree in biology, then master’s degrees in clinical and experimental psychology. Her sons, motivated by her academic accomplishments, would go on to earn Ph.Ds. and become university professors, specializing in mathematics, computer science, and psychology, respectively.

Michal began her new career as a therapist and conducted workshops in anger prevention for universities and community organizations. She specialized in providing services to young autistic adults, helping them realize their own gifts. Her crowning achievement was collaborating with her son Shani to create The Wisdom Center, a state-of-the-art adult health day care (ADHC) center, offering extensive health services and activity programs for seniors and individuals with disabilities. Michal’s goal was to bring happiness into their everyday lives. As the economy turned downward and expenses rose, she had no choice but to make the difficult decision to close down the center.

“That was the saddest time in all of my careers,” says Michal. Not only had she lost all of her savings, she felt she had lost her purpose. Months passed as she searched for a way to try to find a similar path again. “I was lost.” Her sons, who knew how important giving is to her, became concerned about her state of mind. One day, they approached her with an idea: consider moving to the Jewish Home. They believed that at the Home, their mother would receive any help she needed, and, in return, she could help others by sharing her skills and knowledge. That was two and a half years ago, and Michal has not looked back. “The Jewish Home has totally rejuvenated me! Since the Home provides everything I need, I can devote my time to helping others and sharing my positive philosophy of life. It is so rewarding to share my experience with others.”

At the Home, Michal has created a new life, combining her two loves: music and helping others. She leads daily music sessions and entertainment for residents, provides musical accompaniment at Shabbat services, and teaches piano to members of the Home’s dietary staff. Michal also facilitates a class on staying young by appreciating the little things in life and diminishing negative thoughts, using her skills to help others navigate their own paths. She also finds time to write for the Home’s Chai Journal resident newsletter, plays piano for the resident choir, and teaches a weekly class in conversational Hebrew.

“I am by far the happiest I’ve ever been,” exclaims Michal. “I do exactly what I love to do, and I have so much fun doing it. It’s terrific!” She is living her personal motto – “Live, love, laugh, let it go, and let it be.”

Michal also has some sage advice for healthy aging. “Feel well – think young, take care of yourself and don’t focus on aches and pains; enjoy your time with friends, old and new; have fun doing whatever you enjoy; and give of yourself to others. It is amazing…The more you give and do for others, the more energized and happy you will be.”

Michal is preparing to take rabbinical and cantorial classes at American Jewish University. “There’s always so much more to learn,” she says.

At 75, she’s only just begun.

Sign up for the LAJHealth Newsletter, Connections.

Recent Articles

Apr 2

My Mission to Israel

by Rabbi Ronald Goldberg This story is a first-person account by Rabbi Ronald Goldberg, of our Eisenberg Village Campus of Los Angeles Jewish Health, regarding his recent trip to Israel. As has been the case for all of us, the devastating October 7th attack by Hamas on Israel, and the suffering and struggles of our brethren there, are heavy on my heart. From being a non-citizen volunteer in the Israel Defense Forces (צה”ל-TZHAL-IDF), to marrying a wonderful Israeli woman, to my year of rabbinic studies in Jerusalem, Israel has always been in my heart and thoughts and prayers. When the opportunity arose in early December 2023 to take part in a volunteer mission to Israel, I didn’t walk – I ran to sign up, with my wife’s blessing. We both knew the work would be hard and emotional. Going into the program, the IDF required a signed waiver stating that I knew I was entering a closed military zone with active conflict and that the army could not be responsible for my safety. Without hesitation, I signed on the dotted line. The mission took me to the region of Israel known as the Gaza Envelope, so called because it was in range of attack from Gaza. There I was blessed to do a variety of tasks. Some were mundane, like harvesting oranges on a kibbutz ravaged by the October 7th attack. Others were more emotional, such as working in an army rest camp just outside of Gaza and interacting as rabbi with soldiers fresh out of the territory. I gave them space to share their fears and hopes, I served them sandwiches and beverages, and I blessed them. At Sheba Hospital-Tel HaShomer, I did rotations with grievously wounded soldiers, hearing their stories, helping them face their fears, and blessing them and their loved ones. In programs at Fountainview, I’ve described all these things in detail. I’m also always happy to discuss them again in person. But a message I want to share today here is about a slogan you see all over Israel – on bus benches, on the sides of buildings, and on the lower corner of TV screens during broadcasts. The message is ביחד ננצח : Together we will triumph. This is the overwhelming feeling you get all over Israel. Not despair or defeat, but a sense of everyone being all together – a sense that, as one, the nation will succeed in its endeavor to keep its citizens safe. That, despite the efforts of those who murder young people at a music festival, Israel will live, Israel will prosper, and yes, Israel will dance and sing again. It’s not about triumph in battle, it’s about showing that evil will never drown out joy, never drown out love and caring, and that, just as we danced and sang on October 6th, so, too, we will dance and sing again today, tomorrow, and indeed עד עולם –forever. This was my takeaway from the trip: We should never ever forget that עם ישראל חי – the People Israel yet live. Rabbi Ronald Goldberg Volunteer Mission to Israel
Read More
Apr 2

Purim is Celebrated at Los Angeles Jewish Health

Since the time of Purim last year, many disturbing worldwide events have occurred causing pain, anguish and heartache. We began the year in disbelief that a war continued to rage across Ukraine. While we prayed for a peaceful resolution, the unimaginable occurred as the entire world witnessed an innocent music festival in Israel turned into the site of a deadly and evil atrocity. During the following days, through the media we saw men, women and children ripped from the safety of their homes and thrust into a darkness that continues with no certain end ahead. During times that feel so dire, why do we insist on carrying on with a lighthearted festival where people dress up in silly costumes, sing funny songs, and act out the reading of the Megillah, often adapting it to the tune of more contemporary music? The answer is because it is more important than ever to carry out these customs, indeed to celebrate them! We must first understand that the meaning of Purim is to celebrate the fact that Jews overcame the possibility of being destroyed at the hands of an evil entity. That by being strong and resolute no matter what, by standing up for what they believed, together they conquered evil so that there could be peace for all. Then, we see that there has perhaps never been a year more important to pray, hope and speak up, but also to celebrate what it means to be Jewish and to stand together in the unwavering belief that once again, we can overcome for a brighter tomorrow. Resident Purim spiel at Joyce Eisenberg-Keefer Medical Center Newman Building reads from the Book of Ester Goldenberg-Ziman resident dressed up for Purim Purim party at Fountainview at Eisenberg Village Purim reading at Fountainview Gonda Westside Annual staff Purim spiel performed for Grancell Village
Read More
Mar 22

Eisenhower Health Working with Los Angeles Jewish Health to Offer Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) for Coachella Valley Seniors

Rancho Mirage, CA (March 22, 2024) — Made possible through generous philanthropic support, Eisenhower Health has purchased the Neuro Vitality Center (formerly the Stroke Recovery Center). In partnership with Los Angeles Jewish Health (LAJHealth), Eisenhower will provide a Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) at the former Neuro Vitality Center location. After a renovation, the site is expected to open with a new name and focus in the next 12 to 18 months. “Eisenhower Health is committed to addressing the long-term health care needs for low-income seniors through this new Center and PACE program,” says Martin Massiello, President and Chief Executive Officer, Eisenhower Health. “We are incredibly grateful for the support of our generous donors which will aid in serving the area’s most vulnerable residents.” “Having served neurologically challenged and chronically ill members of the community for over 46 years, the Neuro Vitality Center (Stroke Recovery Center) is pleased to turn the reins over to Eisenhower to expand treatment to this vulnerable population in need,” says Beverly Greer, Chief Executive Officer, Neuro Vitality Center. “Increased access and more services will only serve to enhance the quality of life and health for patients well into the future.” “Los Angeles Jewish Health is delighted to partner with Eisenhower Health in bringing our world-class PACE program, entitled the Brandman Centers for Senior Care, to residents of the Coachella Valley,” remarks Dale Surowitz, President and Chief Executive Officer, Los Angeles Jewish Health. “We look forward to working with the organization to meet the needs of the community’s high-risk seniors, while helping to improve the health of the broader community.” PACE provides not only medical care and nutritious meals but also fun activities, exercise, parties, and the opportunity to socialize and make friends, erasing the isolation so common among many of today’s seniors. LAJHealth’s PACE receives approval and oversight from both the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the California Department of Health Care Services’ (CDHCS) Integrated Systems of Care Division. Los Angeles Jewish Health’s PACE is a member of the National PACE Association and CalPACE. Founded in 1912, Los Angeles Jewish Health is the largest non-profit, single-source provider of comprehensive senior healthcare services in the Los Angeles area, serving nearly 4,000 people each year. At Los Angeles Jewish Health, thousands of seniors benefit from community-based and in-residence care and services. Programs include independent living; assisted living; senior behavioral health; short-term rehabilitation; skilled nursing; PACE; hospice and palliative care; and geriatric health and memory care. Los Angeles Jewish Health is also home to the Annenberg School of Nursing. Eisenhower Health is a not-for-profit, comprehensive health care institution that includes the 437-bed Eisenhower Hospital, the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center at Eisenhower and the Annenberg Center for Health Sciences at Eisenhower. Eisenhower is renowned for its Centers of Excellence in Orthopedics, Cardiovascular, Neuroscience and Oncology. Situated on 106 acres in Rancho Mirage, and with outpatient clinics across the valley, Eisenhower Health has provided a full range of quality medical and educational services for more than 50 years for residents and visitors to the greater Coachella Valley. Eisenhower has twice earned ANCC Magnet Recognition® for professionalism in nursing and excellence in patient care. The first accredited teaching hospital in the valley, Eisenhower trains physician residents in Internal Medicine, Family Medicine and Emergency Medicine and offers several fellowships. For more information, visit EisenhowerHealth.org or follow Eisenhower Health on social media.
Read More