Thousands of Miles from Where They Were Born, These Seniors Found Their Way Home
Connections to Care Mobile Hero
Home / News & Events / Newsletter / Thousands of Miles from Where They Were Born, These Seniors Found Their Way Home

Thousands of Miles from Where They Were Born, These Seniors Found Their Way Home

Mar 1, 2022

At the Los Angeles Jewish Home, every resident has a rich and unique story. From diverse backgrounds and points of origin, they come together to create an exceptional community of seniors able to take advantage of a wide array of programs and services, and to maximize their enjoyment of each new day.

Toby and Clara Silnik together are a case in point. Natives of Argentina, where Toby worked as a jeweler and Clara as a photographer, the Silniks left Buenos Aires for New York in 1963 in search of better economic opportunities. They settled in Queens, which served as their home base for over a decade—until, in 1975, they were ready for warmer weather and moved to sunny Southern California.

In Los Angeles, Toby continued to ply his craft in jewelry making, while Clara pivoted, enrolling in business school, and ultimately working for a broad range of companies across the city. The pair lived a happy and fulfilling life in the San Fernando Valley and grew older together, appreciating each other's companionship and marveling at how far they had come from their South American roots.

Eventually, living on their own grew harder. Clara, now 87, was afflicted with significant back pain and was unable to be on her feet for long periods of time, making cooking and keeping a house difficult. Toby, 91, had also slowed down, and they decided to make a move to the Jewish Home, which they had driven by for years on their way to and from their home in Northridge.

"We liked the Jewish Home from the very first moment," Toby recalls of their move, which took place seven years ago. "We didn't have anyone—most of the people we knew, including our siblings in Argentina, had died—and the people at the Home took us in and were so welcoming."

Clara echoes her husband's sentiments. "We're very happy here. Toby and I are both very busy—I knit things that are sold in the arts and crafts studio and Toby designs and makes beaded jewelry for sale to raise money for the Home," she says. "And we love the residents of our building; everyone at the Jewish Home is like family."

Adrienne Berman is a newer member of the Jewish Home family, having only recently relocated to the Home in December. At 89, she is thrilled to have landed at the Home, though her own journey, like the Silniks', began far away.

Born in England to an Anglican family, Adrienne always had the spirit of a wanderer. As a young adult, she moved to Paris to learn French, but her adventures ended up taking her further afield.

"I always knew I wanted to get to America," she says. "After traveling through Canada for a year and a half with friends, I headed south to Los Angeles." She loved the city and the lifestyle, and when the time came for her to return to London, she went half-heartedly. Yet, she soon found a job as part of an American film crew shooting on location, and a producer and his wife took her under their wing and brought her back to the States for good.

Back in California, Adrienne met and married Bayard Berman ("the love of my life," she sighs), a Jewish-American soldier who served in World War II and took advantage of the GI Bill to earn his law degree from Harvard. The couple adopted and raised two children, and Adrienne threw herself into involvement with a local synagogue, Leo Baeck Temple.

"I wasn't raised Jewish, but I had a real affinity for Judaism," she says. "In fact, when I was 24 and single living in Los Angeles, I took a course in comparative religions at UCLA, and Rabbi Leonard Beerman, who led Leo Baeck Temple for 37 years, came to speak. He absolutely blew me away, and I remember thinking, 'That's for me.'"

Adrienne loved the Jewish life she built, and she and Bayard were together until he passed away in 2003. She was left with limited financial resources. She lived with her daughter in her daughter's duplex in West Hollywood for a number of years after that, but she ultimately knew she would need additional support.

"I had always hoped there would be a place for me at the Jewish Home, but then COVID hit, and everything was shut down," she said. Fortunately, during a lull in the pandemic, the Jewish Home was able to restart its admissions process, and Adrienne got the spot she had been dreaming of for so long. At the Home, she—like many of her fellow residents—receive government assistance to help cover the cost of care. "It's absolutely wonderful," she says. "I am so grateful to be here."

At the Home, Adrienne, Toby and Clara have access to comprehensive care at all levels, from skilled nursing and adult day care to memory care and beyond. As the spread of COVID-19 in the community continues to slow, the Jewish Home is pleased to once again be accepting applications, with current openings available.

To learn more, contact us at (822) 227-3745 or visit us online at www.jha.org.


Sign up for the LAJHealth Newsletter, Connections.

Recent Articles

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
Mar 12

Los Angeles Jewish Home Accepts New Resident Applications

After pandemic-related pause, premier senior living facility reopens its doors (RESEDA, CA – March 12, 2021) The Los Angeles Jewish Home announced it is accepting applications for new residents, as well as participants in its community-based programs, after an extended pause in admissions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The reopening coincides with the one-year anniversary of the nationwide shutdown resulting from the coronavirus. Dale Surowitz, CEO-president of the Jewish Home, says welcoming new seniors will enable the organization to continue its century-long tradition of providing for the region’s frail elderly. "Seniors in Los Angeles depend on us for care. During COVID, ensuring their continued health and safety meant refraining from bringing people in. But now that 99 percent of our residents (as well as the large majority of our staff) has been fully vaccinated, we’re relaunching the admissions process so we can serve even more members of the community." The Home has immediate openings for seniors who need hands-on skilled nursing assistance. "The Jewish Home typically has wait lists for available spaces in our skilled nursing facility; it’s uncommon to have availability as we currently do," Surowitz says. "This represents a rare opportunity for people to get into the Home now, before we reach capacity, which will happen quickly." With the easing of the pandemic, the Jewish Home is also welcoming seniors to its Brandman Centers for Senior Care, a Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). Through the program, residents and seniors who live on their own receive medical services, physical therapy, social services, and nutritional counseling, as well as exceptional adult day healthcare that engages them intellectually, physically, and socially. Applicants to the Jewish Home have access to a broad range of programs and services beyond PACE and skilled nursing. From short-term rehab to hospice, independent living, home health, and memory care, the Jewish Home provides support to residents at their varying levels of need. Through the Jewish Home, seniors are also eligible for the organization’s new Brandman Health Plan. Designed for the chronic patient with special needs, the plan offers benefits to anyone in Los Angeles County who is Medicare-eligible and has diabetes, chronic heart failure, cardiovascular disorders, or dementia. Seniors and their families can reach out to the Jewish Home for more information about current openings and availability. "We’re here for new applicants, whoever they are and whatever their needs," Surowitz says. "We look forward to learning how we can help."
Read More