Alan Weiner has lived on East Galbraith Road in Amberley Village for more than 25 years—just around the corner from the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, the Mayerson JCC, Jewish Family Service (JFS), StarPoint Home Care, and AgeWell Cincinnati—a coalition of partners overseen by JFS that includes the JCC, JVS Career Services, and Cedar Village. When Alan was the ritual director at Adath Israel, one of his students was Liz Vogel—the current CEO of JFS. But in December of last year...
“I think without this program, a lot of people would be a lot lonelier,” said Stanley Slomovits over a recent Zoom call. Slomovits was talking about the Uniper Cares program, which connects seniors through live virtual programming.
Seniors from around the country can connect through their TVs and mobile devices to a number of virtual peer-led groups. “I run a current events group where we talk about what’s going on in the news, and I lead an art appreciation group,” he explained.
StarPoint Home Care Helps Turn Corner on Social Isolation:
For more than a year now, the coronavirus has functionally served as the world’s cruel overlord: it has restricted our movements; repressed our social lives; isolated our older adults; controlled our economies; and shuttered our schools, entertainment venues, and sports arenas. In response, we’ve had little recourse but to obey the disease. To improve our chances of survival, we’ve had to toe the line and accept that COVID-19 was boss.
Isolation is as bad for you as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Lonely people are 50 percent more likely to die earlier than those with healthy social relationships. Data from the Health Resources & Services Administration shows more than 3.4 million people struggle with social isolation, loneliness, and living alone—and that was before the onset of COVID-19. More recent numbers show loneliness and social isolation have increased 20 to 30 percent, and emotional distress has tripled during COVID.
“We’re not alone, you know?” Gennady Khaskelis says thoughtfully over FaceTime on a recent, dreary February morning. The conversation, however, is the opposite of dreary—he and his wife Inna are a charming, welcoming, and fascinating couple. While very much their own, their story is also the story of immigrant Jews coming to Cincinnati as they have for two centuries, and also an American success story.
No part of our body talks to us in quite the same way as our heart does. While we may not always be listening, our hearts communicate with us regularly, methodically, and (one should dearly hope) constantly. It only makes sense, therefore, that we’d want to keep the conversation going.
February is American Heart Month and perennially that time of year when we are urged to be more disciplined, change our habits, and start treating our hearts with respect.
“Holocaust survivors are our teachers and our heroes,” said Mark Wilf, the chair of The Jewish Federations of North America’s (JFNA) board of trustees. “With inspiring strength and conviction, they teach us about the past. Now, they are teaching us how to better serve all older adults who have survived trauma.”
JFNA’s Center on Aging and Trauma, a project of the Holocaust Survivor Initiative, has just awarded Jewish Family Service a one-year, $66,666 grant.
"Our people are leading by example," said Jewish Family Service CEO Liz Vogel. "By stepping up and getting the COVID-19 vaccine, we are showing others in our community that it is a safe, proactive step toward stopping the pandemic."
The passage from 2020 to 2021 was a transition that many in our country experienced as a kind of symbolic catharsis: out with the dreaded old year; in with the promising new year.
“It was one of my worst times,” says Gloria (identities changed for privacy). The interview takes place in the dining room of her small, freestanding home. There are signs of love all around—lots of green plants in the windows—but dust piles on the flat surfaces, and the curtains are faded. We are talking about when she finally fought free from addiction to pain medicine. (This interview occurred pre-COVID-19; at the end we share how Gloria is faring during the pandemic.)
“I have a great appreciation for what I consider an immutable fact: people who can feed themselves have a greater sense of independence,” stated Ben Kaufman.
Ben is the master gardener of the community garden of the Barbash Family Vital Support Center, located on the Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion campus. The garden helps provide hundreds of people in our community access to fresh vegetables through the Jewish Family Service Heldman Family Food Pantry.