There is Fire and There is Fire
Connections to Care Mobile Hero
Home / News & Events / Newsletter / There is Fire and There is Fire

There is Fire and There is Fire

Dec 20, 2017

Fire is an incredible element and force of nature. On the one hand it can be overwhelming when it burns out of control. Parts of Southern California have been ablaze for weeks. Many days, though we were not close to the fires, we had to stay indoors to avoid inhaling the smoke. Thankfully, because of the bravery and diligence of the firefighters, who have had to work day and night, lives, homes and even synagogues have been saved by the skills of hand and heart, hose and helicopter. Water has been a rival and affective opponent of fire run amuck.

Indeed, fire is an incredible element and force of nature, as demonstrated also by the Chanukiah, or Chanukah Menorah. The Chanukah lights remind us of the power of fire when it is controlled. Fire controlled can be productive instead of destructive. It can warm the body and warm the soul.

candles


The ambiance of candle light is unmatched. That is why the rabbis of the Talmud noted that the reason we start with one candle on the first night and add a candle each night until the eighth is because in matters of holiness we never decrease, we only increase.

There is fire and there is fire.

Fire uncontrolled is like passions uncontained. Fire uncontrolled is like impulses unrestrained. Controlled fire is like controlled impulse.

You know when you are simply going about your day, doing your own thing, with not a bother on your mind and then suddenly something happens that really upsets you? In that moment, every time, is an opportunity to make a choice. In that moment you have the opportunity to decide to be like a gentle candle or a blazing fire.

Psychiatrist and Auschwitz survivor Dr. Viktor E. Frankl wrote, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom." When we react to difficult moments uncontrolled, we can insult or hurt others. When we slow down, give pause and commit ourselves to our best response, we can heal the moment, heal ourselves and others.

When a fire is out of control, smoke can blow far beyond the area of the fire itself. I know someone with asthma who suffered during fires that were 20 miles away. So too with our emotions. Passions uncontained and impulses unrestrained do damage beyond their immediate impact, both in time and in lives.

The flame of the Chanukah menorah is soft. It is gentle but determined, illuminating and enlightening. It is fire but it is the fire of a Chanukah candle, which humbles us with its confidence in the miraculous. May we enter the new year inspired by the memory of its sweet light.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!!!

Rabbi Karen Bender
Rabbi Karen Bender
Skirball Director of Spiritual Life
karen.bender@jha.org



Sign up for the LAJHealth Newsletter, Connections.

Recent Articles

Jan 18

Healping Seniors and Communities Thrive

Compassionate senior care is key at Los Angeles Jewish Health, where caring healthcare teams keep communities happy, healthy, and well. Having the right help is crucial when caring for older adults, ensuring each individual is treated with compassion and respect. That’s why Los Angeles Jewish Health’s top-tier healthcare professionals treat our seniors like family. Formerly the Los Angeles Jewish Home, Los Angeles Jewish Health was founded over a century ago on a simple act of care and compassion. “Our story began in 1912 when a small group of neighbors gave shelter to five homeless Jewish men during Passover holiday,” says Dale Surowitz, CEO and president. “Our founder Simon Lewis recognized a vital opportunity to provide respite and resources to the community, and that remains our commitment today.” Now the largest nonprofit, single-source senior healthcare provider in Los Angeles, Los Angeles Jewish Health is a leading name in comprehensive senior living and care. From adult day care activities and residential living to short-term rehabilitation and skilled nursing, the award-winning organization serves more than 4,000 seniors throughout Greater Los Angeles. “I’m proud of the best-in-class care we provide to the community. Without organizations like ours, we know many seniors would go without,” Surowitz says. “We have a long-standing reputation of delivering excellence in care and services for vulnerable members of the community who need us the most, especially seniors living near or below the poverty line.” The nonprofit is funded in part with government support as well as a dynamic network of support groups, individuals, corporations, and foundations. Los Angeles Jewish Health is a vital community resource for all, rooted in Jewish values. Charity, quality, dignity, and fiscal responsibility drive programs and care designed to help seniors thrive. “We take a holistic approach to healthy aging focused on mind, body, and spirit,” says Surowitz. “That starts with comprehensive care tailored to support seniors’ physical and mental health.” Enhancing Health and Longevity“Many seniors live in settings that don’t offer the socialization they need,” Surowitz says. “Caring for psychological needs is an important part of helping seniors keep happy, healthy, and well, so we offer a variety of programs that do just that.” Among those are music therapy, pet therapy, and intergenerational volunteer programming that brings children and seniors together. With a growing list of activities, classes, and clubs, there’s something for everyone at Los Angeles Jewish Health. “Our responsibility goes beyond just providing care. We’re committed to providing every senior their highest quality of life possible,” says Surowitz. At Los Angeles Jewish Health, a broad spectrum of in-residence and community-based services ensure healthcare needs are met and help patients remain independent and active for as long as possible. Across the campuses, compassionate physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, and therapists deliver personalized care that supports the individualized needs of those they care for each day. “We’re there each step of the way as care needs increase, whether patients reside at home or on one of our campuses,” Surowitz says. With two independent living campuses, state-of-the-art assisted living centers, and multiple skilled nursing facilities, Los Angeles Jewish Health provides in-residence options that meet the diverse needs of residents and patients. “Other vital services that reach out to the community include palliative medicine, hospice, dementia care, and short-term rehabilitation. Additionally, the all-inclusive Brandman Centers for Senior Care provide a myriad of coordinated services and care management to our participants, all designed to enhance longevity and quality of life,” adds Surowitz. “From senior housing to short-term nursing facilities, we care for over 1,000 adults on-site. Now, we’re expanding our services throughout the community to help seniors stay safe, productive, and happy at home, which remarkably reduces hospitalizations,” he continues. That’s one reason why the health system recently rebranded to Los Angeles Jewish Health, a name that better reflects its broad spectrum of senior healthcare services. And with the senior population anticipated to double over the next two decades, the timing couldn’t be better. “Our goal is to continue providing outstanding services across our campuses while reaching deeper into our communities,” Surowitz says. “Many seniors want to enjoy their golden years at home, and our programs allow them to age in place while enhancing their quality of life with services designed to keep them healthy.” Compassionate Care and RespectBehind Los Angeles Jewish Health’s centurylong legacy is a tenured team committed to compassionate patient care. “The word ‘mitzvah’ in Hebrew represents a responsibility to care for others, and we take that very seriously,” says Surowitz. “As seniors age, they aren’t always afforded the dignity and respect they deserve. We bend over backward to provide that. It really is heartening to see our staff treat residents like family.” Located at Los Angeles Jewish Health’s Hirsch Family Campus, the Annenberg School of Nursing instills that passion in the next generation of healthcare providers. At thisaward-winning nursing school, the one-of-a kind program combines a comprehensive curriculum with hands-on clinical experience. Altogether, the school graduates roughly 150 vocational nurses, Certified Nursing Assistants, and home health aides each year and often hires alums to work across Los Angeles Jewish Health’s campuses. “Many of our students come from underprivileged backgrounds,” Surowitz says. “Our programs provide the education they need to advance while also providing vital medical care throughout underserved communities.” As Los Angeles Jewish Health evolves, the organization plans to expand educational opportunities and programs, yet its dedication to patients remains unchanged. “We’re committed to continuing to deliver the high level of care and services the community has come to know us for, especially as we grow,” says Surowitz. “That’s our hallmark. It’s who we are—and who we’ll always be.”
Read More
Jul 5

With 100 Years of Excellence in Senior Care, Los Angeles Jewish Home Transitions to New Name More Reflective of the Broad Spectrum of Senior Care Offerings Available to All

With a new name and continued focus on meeting diverse senior needs, Los Angeles Jewish Health meets seniors where they are in life, providing a customized senior experience. (RESEDA, CA – July 5, 2022) As it continues to build on more than a century of providing an array of high-quality residential living options and care for Southern California seniors, the Los Angeles Jewish Home is unveiling a new name: Los Angeles Jewish Health. The updated identity reflects Los Angeles Jewish Health’s commitment to offering area seniors a full complement of exceptional programs and services and a comprehensive continuum of care, whether that care is at home, in the community, or on one of their beautiful campus settings. “Over the years, as the needs of our community members have expanded and changed, we have evolved, too, expanding the scope of healthcare services we provide. It is now the right time to transition to a name more reflective of the vast array of senior care services and living options available through Los Angeles Jewish Health, while still remaining true to our mission and Jewish values,” said Dale Surowitz, CEO-president of Los Angeles Jewish Health. Los Angeles Jewish Health is a national leader in senior health and wellness. Established in 1912 in East Los Angeles to assist Jewish men seeking shelter, today Los Angeles Jewish Health cares for a diverse group of thousands of seniors each year through independent housing, adult day care, skilled nursing facilities, short-term rehabilitation, hospice services, and more. What began as a modest residential facility at the turn of the previous century has grown into a leading senior health system, providing for a rapidly growing elder population with a broad range of geriatric and specialty healthcare needs. By 2030, one in five Americans are projected to be older individuals. Seniors 85 and older are the fastest growing segment of this population and are expected to increase fivefold over the next 30 years, from four million in 2000 to 21 million in 2050.“Shifting demographics demand that we sharpen our focus to ensure we are an available senior care resource for every member of our community,” Surowitz said. “As we have for more than 100 years, we look forward to contributing Los Angeles Jewish Health’s extensive experience and medical expertise toward better health outcomes for all seniors.” About Los Angeles Jewish Health: Founded in 1912, and formerly known as the Los Angeles Jewish Home, the non-profit Los Angeles Jewish Health is the largest single-source provider of comprehensive senior healthcare services in the Los Angeles area, serving nearly 4,000 people each year. Thousands of seniors benefit from the Los Angeles Jewish Health’s community-based and in-residence care and services. Programs include: PACE (A Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly); hospice; palliative medicine; community clinics; short-term rehabilitation; and acute psychiatric care. Four campuses (Eisenberg Village, Grancell Village, Fountainview at Eisenberg Village, and Fountainview at Gonda Westside) serve seniors with options for independent living, residential care, skilled nursing care, short-term rehabilitation, and Alzheimer’s disease and memory care. In addition, Los Angeles Jewish Health is home to the Annenberg School of Nursing.
Read More
Mar 15

Los Angeles Jewish Health Resident and Holocaust Survivor Celebrates Bat Mitzvah, and 92nd Birthday, during 100th Anniversary of the first American to celebrate a Bat Mitzvah

(RESEDA, CA – March 15, 2022) History will be made at the Los Angeles Jewish Home, Thursday, March 18 as beloved resident and Holocaust survivor Frieda Thompson turns 92 on the same day she will be called to Torah for her Bat Mitzvah. This date also marks the 100th anniversary of when Judith Kaplan, at age twelve, became the first American girl to celebrate a Bat Mitzvah on March 18, 1922. Frieda Thompson, whose parents were murdered by the Nazis, still recalls that one of her mother’s final actions was to ensure her brother was called to Torah for his Bar Mitzvah even as there was chaos all around. Frieda studied for her Bat Mitzvah a few years ago, but COVID-19 prevented gathering as a community at that time. Now, with family flying in for the big day, Frieda will celebrate her Bat Mitzvah during the weekly Shabbat Eve. Service, in the Weinberg Courtyard of the Jewish Home, in front of loving family, caring staff, and dozens of fellow Jewish Home residents. When asked what this day means to her, Frieda offers, “Moses was loyal to his family and to the Jewish people. I too have always felt loyal to my family and the Jewish People.” In commenting on the significance of this lifetime milestone Rabbi Karen Bender commented, “As a small child, Frieda was forced to raise her hand and call out ‘Heil Hitler’. Today her voice rings out as a cherished leader among her peers.” Note: Media interested in attending the Service/Bat Mitzvah must be fully vaccinated/boosted/masked – and must RSVP in advance.
Read More