Why People From Many Generations Choose to Volunteer at the Los Angeles Jewish Home

Connections to Care Mobile Hero
Home / News & Events / Newsletter / Why People From Many Generations Choose to Volunteer at the Los Angeles Jewish Home

Why People From Many Generations Choose to Volunteer at the Los Angeles Jewish Home

Jun 1, 2022

There is no one single secret ingredient to the Los Angeles Jewish Home’s success. Our extraordinary staff, talented administrators, trailblazing board members, and generous donors all play a critical role in creating the kind of warm, nurturing, supportive environment that has earned the Jewish Home its stellar reputation nationwide.

However, one bit of Jewish Home magic deserves special attention: its incredibly dedicated cadre of volunteers, who tirelessly give of themselves—day in and day out—to improve the lives of the seniors we are so privileged to serve.

Aylene Kovary Gift Shop Volunteer, Eisenberg
Aylene Kovary Gift Shop Volunteer, Eisenberg


At the Jewish Home, volunteering is central to our mission and to the smooth operation of our daily schedule. Volunteers hail from different places (some are loved ones of current or former Jewish Home residents; others are community members who have heard about our work and are excited to join in to help), but they share a common interest and intention, says Stacy Orbach, the Jewish Home’s director of volunteer services.

"No matter how they come to us, our volunteers are so grateful for the services we provide to seniors. They understand how much elderly men and women have done for our community, and they are eager to show their appreciation by giving back," she says.

Volunteers participate in the life of the Jewish Home in a myriad of ways, from reading to residents, to troubleshooting their technology issues, to assisting with special events. Many bring in their certified therapy dogs to visit with residents and enhance their emotional well-being. Others help lead our growing music therapy program, or simply play an instrument and bring it with them to the Home to share their skill with a deeply grateful audience. Another area of participation for volunteers is our intergenerational programming, which enables kids to spend time with our residents and delight them with their youthful vigor, as the younger generation learns so very much from the seniors.

Phil Moser, Book Cart/Book Distribution Volunteer
Phil Moser, Book Cart/Book Distribution Volunteer


During the initial stages of the pandemic, we had to put a temporary pause on allowing volunteers onto Jewish Home campuses; securing the health of residents is always our top priority. Now, as the ongoing health safety protocols remain in place, we are ready to welcome volunteers back on campus. Volunteers must be vaccinated and have received at least one booster.

Even when COVID-19 necessitated isolation, there was another population of volunteers who did not have to vacate the Jewish Home premises: our residents themselves! Many of them spend a portion of their day volunteering in a broad range of capacities, from the mailroom to the arts and crafts studio, to our active Resident Councils.

Resident Robert Lehman is just one example. After arriving at the Jewish Home in 2011, he discovered that volunteering helped him put his own challenges in perspective.

"When I first got to the Home, I was focused on my own health issues, but then I realized there are so many people here in need of more assistance than I am," he recalls. "Volunteering helped me forget about my own troubles and concentrate instead on uplifting other residents as I worked to meet their various needs."

Robert’s volunteer efforts have included serving as President of one of the Jewish Home’s Resident Councils. In that capacity, he would meet each week with Jewish Home staff to address his fellow residents’ questions and concerns.

"The council was a vehicle for residents to express their needs and requests, and I am so grateful they confided in me and enabled me to serve them," Robert says. "I did my best to make everybody comfortable, and I worked hard to get people the ‘yes’s’ they were hoping for!"

Aylene Kovary helping a patron
Aylene Kovary helping a patron


Stacy points out that, whether they are residents or community members, volunteers make a crucial contribution at the Jewish Home. "Some of our residents can feel isolated from time to time, and volunteers help them feel they’re no longer alone," she says. "In addition to their able minds and bodies, our volunteers bring us unconditional love, which is the greatest gift we could possibly ask for."

To learn more about volunteer opportunities at the Jewish Home, contact Stacy Orbach at (818) 774-3219 or stacy.orbach@jha.org.

Sign up for the LAJHealth Newsletter, Connections.

Recent Articles

Feb 6

At Los Angeles Jewish Health Love Knows No Bounds

When 94-year-old Jack Schlaifer agreed to officiate at the wedding of his grandniece, Alison, and her fiancé, Daniel, he was building on a family tradition: months earlier, he had performed the marriage ceremony for Alison’s father (his nephew Charles) in the backyard of his Westlake Village home. Jack was honored when Alison asked him to do the honors for her wedding as well. They laid out plans for a similar ceremony, in the same venue, on New Year’s Day—until life got in the way. “In November, I had a fall, and I fractured my L5 [a region between the lumbar and sacral spine in the lower back],” Jack says. “Suddenly, I was living in a rehabilitation facility, and all bets were off. I called Alison and told her, ‘You can’t count on me for the wedding.’ I was sad about it, but what could I do?” Alison knew exactly what he should do: proceed full steam ahead. "She said, “Uncle Jack, I don’t care where you are; I want you to marry us. We’ll come to wherever you are!’” he recalls. “I was incredibly moved.” All that was left was to coordinate with the staff at Los Angeles Jewish Health. LAJH is a place that Jack, a native Angeleno who had raised his family in the Valley, had long known and loved. “I joined The Guardians (a support group of LAJH) in 1980, and when they formed The Executives, I was a founding member and, later, president,” he said. “I served on The Executives’ board for 30 years.” Jack reached out to Los Angeles Jewish Health staff, and everyone enthusiastically leaned in to ensure all details were arranged. On January 1, 2024, in a cozy family room on the Grancell Village campus, Jack gathered together with Alison, Daniel, and an intimate group of family to give the couple his blessing and pronounce them “man and wife.” “It was an amazing wedding, and it brought me a lot of naches [joy],” Jack says, smiling. “After it was over, the family went for sandwiches to Brent’s Deli, which is Alison and Daniel’s favorite place. It was perfect.” Once the ceremony was complete, it was back to the hard work of rehab. Every day Jack has both physical and occupational therapy, and every day he gets a little bit stronger. While the road to recovery is long, he is grateful to be walking it at Los Angeles Jewish Health. “I’m lucky to be here,” he says. “The care is wonderful, and the people are great.”
Read More
Feb 6

Special Intergenerational Program Honors Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Spirit of Coming Together for the Greater Good

Members of the Jewish and African-American communities have long found solidarity in common purpose, with a history of teaming up toward the pursuit of equal rights. As the New Year began, two diverse community groups gathered at Los Angeles Jewish Health to remember the legacy of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. while continuing to build toward a unified future. They literally came together to break bread. In collaboration with Challah and Soul, a program that seeks to educate and unite the Jewish and Black communities, high school students from Adat Ari El congregation traveled to Los Angeles Jewish Health for an adventure in baking and storytelling. During the fascinating intergenerational event, LA Jewish Health residents shared memories of Dr. King as they worked side-by-side with the students to braid loaves of challah. The result: a wonderful afternoon of raising awareness, passing along a beloved Jewish tradition, and fostering strong intergenerational bonds. “The students arrived with smiles and great energy,” says Susan Leitch, community manager and safety officer at Los Angeles Jewish Health and a key organizer of the event. “It was wonderful to see them interact with our seniors.” Created by Shonda Isom Walkowitz, the founder of Bucks Happy Farm in the Lucerne Valley, and Judi Leib, a chef and veteran of the food services industry, Challah and Soul was built on a mutual interest in helping Blacks and Jews rediscover the things that make them natural allies. As challah dough was passed to the assembled residents and students, Judi spoke about the importance of food in uniting diverse people, and Shonda offered her thoughts about the similarities between the Black and Jewish experiences. “This event showcased how much wisdom and perspective LA Jewish Health seniors can offer to the broader community,” Julie Lockman-Gold, special projects coordinator at Los Angeles Jewish Health, says. “Especially during a time of rising anti-Semitism, our residents have a lot to say about inequality, injustice, and racism. Giving them an opportunity to be heard – and for students to learn from their experiences – was truly meaningful.” The event drew a large turnout of residents from Grancell Village’s Mark Taper Building and Joyce Eisenberg-Keefer Medical Center, as well as 20 Adat Eri El students and some of their family members. “Watching them partner to make the challah, you could see the joy on everyone’s faces,” Julie recalls. “When the bread was done baking, the smell was amazing, and people were so excited to dig in!” By the end of the afternoon, the happiness and contentment that filled the room were clear indications of the event’s success. It was a feeling shared by all participants. Julie added, “As the students were leaving, Adat Ari El’s program director, Sara Markus, told me she’s already thinking about doing it again next year!”
Read More
Jan 24

Inaugural Classic & Exotic Car Show

Hirsch Family Campus No charge to supporters of LAJH RSVP Here
Read More