The Three Musketeers of Los Angeles Jewish Health

Connections to Care Mobile Hero
Home / News & Events / Newsletter

The Three Musketeers of Los Angeles Jewish Health

Jan 4, 2023
Talat Barahmand, Iran Diansedgh, and Zaghi Kohan Ghadosh

When Talat Barahmand, Iran Diansedgh, and Zaghi Kohan Ghadosh moved into Los Angeles Jewish Health, they expected to find vital assistance in meeting their daily critical care needs. What they did not expect was to find fast friendships that would ease their transition to a new living situation and fill their days with joy.

The three women arrived at Los Angles Jewish Health not knowing one another: Iran about six years ago, Talat around five years ago, and Zaghi, most recently, approximately, three years ago. Sharing a common background (all are originally from Iran) and a common language (Farsi), they quickly connected and have been inseparable ever since.

Iran and Zaghi are roommates in the Mark Taper building; Talat lives across the hall. Rabbi Karen Bender, chief mission officer at LA Jewish Health, refers to the friends as "the Three Musketeers."

"They spend as much time together as possible, and it's just amazing," she says. "What a gift they have received and given to each other by finding best friends at this stage of life!"

Iran, 100, is a native of Teheran; she and her husband fled after the Islamic Revolution. They landed in Dallas, Texas, where they had a daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren, and spent roughly 15 years living there before making their way to Southern California, home to their other two children. Her husband passed away in 2007, and she lived on her own until her health and advancing age made independent living impossible.

As Iran tells it, her experience at Los Angeles Jewish Health has been excellent – the people and the service have all been wonderful. She is especially grateful to be able to spend her days alongside Zaghi and Talat.

"We do everything together: playing bingo, attending Shabbat services, listening to music," she says. "We're all really happy."

Of course, there are occasional disagreements; all three women prefer to see themselves as being in the right. "We may argue, but there are no actual fights!" Iran laughs.

Zaghi, 90, has been in the United States for two decades. She came from the Iranian city of Shiraz, which she fled because of the increasing intolerance of the authoritarian government. In Iran, Zaghi's family was quite wealthy, but during the revolution they lost everything: their home, the two cinemas they owned, and extensive property holdings.

Los Angeles made sense as a destination because two of her five children lived here. It was difficult to adapt to an unknown environment, but with her family's support she built a new life. "I miss Iran, but I like California," she says.

When mobility issues made it clear she could no longer live without assistance, she moved into Los Angeles Jewish Health and was thrilled to meet people with similar backgrounds. "My friends are the best, and I love talking with them," she says. "We chat, we watch Persian TV, and sometimes, as Iran pointed out, we argue. But we always stay close."

At 86, Talat is the youngest of the group. She and her husband, along with one of their three daughters, emigrated from Iran in 1996 as a result of religious persecution, making their way to Los Angeles, where their other daughters and their son already lived. It was a difficult move, but they were thrilled to be reunited with family and away from a repressive regime.

After Talat's husband died in 2011, her deteriorating vision made living alone a health hazard, and she chose to take up residence at Los Angeles Jewish Health.

The decision, she says, was a good one. "I love it here. They take such good care of me, and everyone is very friendly."

Talat is extremely outgoing, and having her friends as a social outlet has been a godsend. "Zaghi, Iran, and I all help each other. We're all Jewish, and it's so nice to be able to speak Farsi and to have people I get along with so well."

Rabbi Bender says the Three Musketeers' friendship is as special as the women themselves. "When I greet them 'Shabbat Shalom,' they will often respond not only by saying, 'Shabbat Shalom,' but also by giving me a blessing. It's truly an honor to have three such wonderful women living here with us."

Seeing Zaghi, Talat, and Iran interact every day has led Rabbi Bender to marvel at how fortunate they are to have formed such a tight-knit bond.

"If I spoke Farsi, I would petition to become their Fourth Musketeer!" she says.

Sign up for the LAJHealth Newsletter, Connections.

Recent Articles

Jun 14

Reflections Gala 2024: Celebrating Generations of Caring

Reflections Gala 2024: Celebrating Generations of Caring Honoring Marilyn & Izzy Freeman REGISTER HERE Date: Sunday, November 10, 2024 Location: Skirball Cultural Center - Los Angeles
Read More
Jun 5

Seniors Create a Night to Remember and Lifelong Connections at Senior-Senior Dance

Spring is prom season—that fun-filled, special rite of passage marking a last chance for high school seniors to forge enduring memories of young adulthood before heading out into the wider world. This year, Los Angeles Jewish Health held a dance for both seniors in high school and seniors who are older adults, bringing them together for a special shared celebration. On a beautiful evening, residents of the Newman Building on the Eisenberg Village campus joined graduating seniors from de Toledo High School to create lasting connections and a night to remember. The idea—hosting an annual evening that would enable people on both sides of the generational divide to learn how much they have in common and bond—was born a handful of years ago. The inaugural Senior-Senior Dance, held before the tightening up of health regulations during COVID-19, was a tremendous success. “Following the pandemic, we started to think about bringing the Senior-Senior Dance back. It’s such a wonderful program, and I remember our residents couldn’t stop talking about how much they enjoyed it for weeks after it happened,” says Stacy Orbach, Los Angeles Jewish Health’s director of volunteer services. “We knew it would be so invigorating for our seniors to move and schmooze on the dance floor!” High School Seniors and Senior residents dance together Students and administrators at de Toledo, a private Jewish day school located in West Hills, were equally thrilled by the prospect of making this special event a tradition, and a group of de Toledo seniors began planning in earnest with Los Angeles Jewish Health staff. On the day of the event, students arrived at Los Angeles Jewish Health early to help set up, transforming the venue with decorations including colored lights and festive crepe paper. All of the excitement created a buzz on campus and brought Los Angeles Jewish Health residents out in droves. Stacy shares, “We had a packed house including parents of students and de Toledo’s head of school. The de Toledo jazz band came, along with their amazing teacher Jared Stein. Once they started playing, students and residents flocked to the dance floor. We couldn’t get them off!” LAJH Special Projects Coordinator Julie Lockman-Gold says the event was rejuvenating for the Newman residents, most of whom are in their 80s and 90s and who love connecting with younger people. “We literally watched our residents get younger during the night. If they had arthritis or other pain, they forgot it all. They showed such spunk, and all their old dance moves came back. There was one resident who didn’t sit down the entire night—and she’s 94!” she says. “Seeing such big smiles and so much joy on residents’ faces was really something to behold.” The residents were deeply appreciative of the de Toledo students’ presence at the event. “That these kids wanted to be with us was such a mitzvah,” one of the participants says. “It meant a lot for them to come here and do this for us.” The benefit and appreciation went both ways. “The students got so much out of this event,” says Annette Weinberg, Los Angeles Jewish Health’s campus lifestyle and enrichment director for Eisenberg Village. “At school, they learn the concept of l’dor v’dor (from generation to generation), which is all about passing down wisdom and traditions. The Senior-Senior Dance gave them an opportunity to put it into action, and I think they realized how meaningful it was for our residents to spend time with them, listen to them, and laugh with them.” Perhaps one of the participating de Toledo seniors put it best: “We formed real soul-to-soul connections. It’s not just what we did for them, but also the impact they had on us,” he says. “The simple conversations we had with them taught us life lessons that we’ll carry with us through our next chapters.” Music was provided by the De Toledo High School Jazz Band Both groups enjoyed visiting throughout the event.
Read More
Jun 5

New Activity Group Leaves Residents Feeling Positively Great

For Los Angeles Jewish Health resident Arlene Bercu, life is about making the most of every moment. The 90-year-old Winnipeg transplant has always greeted each day with enthusiasm, but her embrace of glass-half-full optimism has recently taken on new meaning—and, as she tells it, today her glass overflows with thankfulness and fulfillment. “Last year, I got COVID and also took a fall at the same time and ended up being hospitalized for five days. When I came back to Los Angeles Jewish Health, I went into rehab, and the kindness, care, and love of the staff was amazing,” she enthuses. “I know God took me on a spiritual odyssey and put those people on my path, and it made me so grateful.” Channeling that gratitude into action, at the suggestion of several Los Angeles Jewish Health staffers, Arlene decided to launch the Positivity Group, a monthly meeting of residents living on the Grancell Village campus, in its Joyce Eisenberg-Keefer Medical Center building. The idea, she says, is to help her fellow residents experience the kind of pure happiness they had when they were little children. “We choose a theme for the meetings, and we welcome whoever wants to come,” Arlene says. “In April, which was our first gathering, the focus was music: We had residents singing and playing tambourines, castanets, and drums. People were smiling ear-to-ear, and seeing their faces light up made my soul soar.” During the May meeting, Arlene—a talented artist who was selling her work on the Venice Beach Boardwalk into her 80s—led group participants in making bookmarks and postcards and painting on giant easels. “We even had Q-Tips for people who couldn’t hold brushes; you can paint with any manner of things!” she notes. As Arlene sees it, the magic of the Positivity Group is its ability to connect residents with the sense of wonder and amazement they may not have felt since their earliest years. “Adults are such perfectionists, and we can be so hard on ourselves. But, as kids, we’re more open and receptive to the idea that each of us is original, one-of-a-kind, a masterpiece,” she says. “That’s what I want our participants to understand: They can contribute in their own unique ways, whether it’s singing a song or painting a canvas, and their contributions are valued—and they are loved.” At future meetings, Arlene hopes to lead the group in assembling gift baskets to be distributed to other residents. “We’ll have all sorts of treasures that will allow seniors to unlock their inner child, from checkers sets and dolls to Lincoln Logs and Play Doh,” she says. “Then we’ll tie the baskets up with beautiful raffia ribbon. It will be so wonderful!” Arlene says helping residents harken back to their youth helps spark creativity and joy while also providing new opportunities for intellectual and spiritual growth. “Just because we’re older doesn’t mean we have to stop learning,” she points out. “I believe God makes all things possible no matter our ages and that, if we just have faith, we’ll find we can accomplish so much. Fear is the only thing holding us back, and I hope that after coming to the Positivity Group, people will feel upbeat and excited about doing new things. I know I do: Every day is a gift, and I’m not afraid to try anything anymore.” Arlene sold her work on the Venice Beach Boardwalk well into her 80s
Read More