Jewish life in assisted living communities throughout Los Angeles is active and thriving. Substantial Jewish populations can be found at properties throughout the city, with particularly large concentrations of Jewish seniors in West Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.
Shabbat is celebrated across communities either with an in-person Rabbi or via Zoom. And, you'd be suprised how many of them make matzo ball soup on Fridays! Even Kingsley Manor, a large Hollywood assisted living property started by the German Methodists in 1912 as the Pacific Old People's Home serves bagel and lox every morning. Yum.
Being Jewish myself, I am particularly attuned to how Los Angeles senior living communities observe the holidays. For those of us who practice the faith, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkoh are some of the most important days of the year. This week, as I have been touring with clients, I've had a chance to get a close up look.
Belmont Village in Calabasas is a new community, opened in 2018 as one of Belmont's Centers of Excellence. Licensed for 165 residents, it is open and airy, providing plenty of outdoor and congregating space. The property offers independent living, assisted living and memory care.
While a community's physical plant is important, I always look first at the people. Are they happy? Do they look engaged? Does the staff interact with them? At Belmont, I can say "Yes" to all three. In the dining room, lots of groups were hanging out at their tables chatting away and clearly enjoying one another. I found groups of residents again hanging out together in the cafe reading the newspaper and enjoying a cup of coffee.
About 95% of the residents at Belmont Calabasas are Jewish. While most Jewish residents of senior living communities are not religious, I find everyone enjoys the holiday rituals and traditions. Calabasas makes the most of that by preparing holiday meals, in-person services with a Rabbi and Cantor, shofar blowing and a sing along.
Garden of Palms on Fairfax Avenue near Santa Monica Blvd is one of the few Kosher communities in Los Angeles. While not everyone living at Garden of Palms is religious, they choose to live at Garden of Palms for its attention to Jewish life and to be amongst peers.
For the Rosh Hashanah meals Garden of Palms served traditional foods: Tzimmes dish, challah and salads with Pomegranate seeds. An in-person Rabbi leads services for all of the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur Services, including Kol Nidre on Yom Kippur. On Rosh Hashanah, Garden of Palms organized group discussions on memories of the holiday and New Year’s Resolutions.
The ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur will include holiday themed art projects, Challah baking, a pomegranate tea and honey cake happy hour and many more activities. They also build a sukkot in their courtyard space. This is a time for residents to share quality time in the Sukkot outdoors. Garden of Palms has a full schedule of activities for residents to enjoy the high holiday season together.
Brookdale Gardens of Tarzana is another assisted living community with a substantial Jewish resident base. Unlike Garden of Palms which is promoted and operated as a Jewish facility, Brookdale Gardens of Tarzana is non-secterarian. It derives its large Jewish resident base from the surrounding communities of Encino and Tarzana, which are noted for their large Israeli populations.
Often, when I visit Brookdale Gardens it feels like I am visiting my grandmother's house. Lots of older ladies enjoying a kaffee klatsch, playing cards, and chatting, often in Yiddish. It's a smaller place and very heymish.
For Rosh Hashanah, Brookdale Gardens of Tarzana welcomed Cantor Marc Bachrach who blew the Shofar to signal the beginning of the celebration on Monday September 6th. After a short service of songs and prayers, residents feasted on a specially curted menu of lamb chops, brisket, grilled salmon, asparagus and butter peas. The residents led prayers over the challah. Apples and honey were served, as is tradition.
I want to give a special shout out to Fairwinds in West Hills, an independent and assisted living community emphasizing "five star fun." I've always liked this community for its large apartments, nice green space, all day dining, and active clientele. I was particularly impressed when I visited this week by their stellar Rosh Hashanah menu! While I don't think of West Hills as a center of Jewish Life, my friends at Fairwinds say that 40% of their residents are Jewish and that they celebrate Shabbat and all the holidays. Kudos to you Fairwinds! I wish I could have stayed for dinner!
To find out more, contact Assisted Living Locators Los Angeles owner Sarah Ordover at 310-853-8282 or email@example.com. Sarah is one of LA’s top senior living advisors. Certified in dementia care, Sarah is a trained aging specialist who holds an RCFE assisted living administrators license. Sarah thoughtfully guides families through the senior living decision-making process, helping them find the best solution for their loved ones. Sarah's service is free to her clients.