Nysha Recent News

Putting Our Community’s Venerable Patriarchs in their (Rightful) Place

May 1, 2017            

By Mendy Hecht, Hamaspik Gazette

Hamaspik’s New Shnois Chaim Senior Day Program in Monsey Nourishes Body and Soul


Everyone at Hamaspik knows what their job is.  But when a venerable senior is on hand, showing him or her proper and well-earned respect is everyone’s job.


That was the scene at the Hamaspik Terrace social hall at Hamaspik’s Monsey headquarters complex this past April 27, as Hamaspik of Rockland County Comptroller Solomon Wertheimer, normally crunching numbers behind a desk, found himself doling out servings and otherwise serving seniors.


It was the third day of Hamaspik of Rockland County’s new Shnois Chaim Senior Dining/Social Day Program, and the program’s first monthly luncheon marking the new Jewish-calendar month—and Hamaspik office staff, joining the group of community elders around the table, found themselves drafted into jobs not exactly part of their official job descriptions.


Besides Comptroller Wertheimer effectively serving as waiter, Maintenance Manager Aaron Rubinstein, normally busy with the agency’s servers, found himself serving one distinguished patriarch by helping him to his seat. 


Quality Assurance Director Eliezer “Lazer” Appel was likewise seen bustling about bearing trays of fresh food, moving chairs in and out and otherwise assuring the quality of the event.


By the time it was over an hour later, the seniors in attendance came away satisfied not just in body, but in heart, mind and spirit too—feeling, rightfully, that they were not only tended to but, most importantly, given their rightful place at the head of a community that would literally not exist if not for their existence.


Living Years


Long associated in the community with social services resources, Hamaspik has long outgrown its limited original mission of only supporting individuals with intellectual disability.


With the advent of HamaspikCare, the agency took its brand-name excellence and authority into home care—bringing the Hamaspik brand of caring and professionalism to the thousands of seniors and others who would benefit from at-home care services from Hamaspik.


More recently, the Orange County Dept. of Social Services capitalized on a positive, proactive and symbiotic relationship with Hamaspik of Orange County, turning to the community-leading non-profit to take the reins of a local senior program.


The result was a trailblazing partnership between Hamaspik and the Dept.’s Office for the Aging (OFA), which has long provided a meal program for regional seniors, both delivered to individual doorsteps and served in group settings.


That partnership was shortly named “Shnois Chaim”—which roughly but aptly translates to “Years of Life” or “Living Years,” indicating not just the respect Hamaspik’s primary community harbors for what the vernacular calls the “golden years,” but also the vigor that Hamaspik customarily throws into everything it does.


As such, ever since Shnois Chaim at Hamaspik of Orange County officially opened its doors, venerated seniors who call the upstate village of Kiryas Joel home found a daily home in the elegant ground-floor social hall of Hamaspik’s Administration Building—where OFA Director Ann Marie Maglione and Shnois Chaim Coordinator Mrs. Chaye Miriam Landau have forged a highly effective partnership in delivering daily meals, exercise regimens and more.


And now, Shnois Chaim has come to Rockland County.


Rolling out a Regimen of Respect


Since his hiring, Moshe Laufer has not just served as a Medicaid Service Coordinator (MSC) Supervisor, but also as its At-home Services Director—and now, as overseer of its new Shnois Chaim program, too.


Working diligently under Mr. Laufer is the freshly-hired Yeshaya Stern, Hamaspik of Rockland County’s energetic new Senior Day Services Coordinator.


Backed by the hardworking Mr. Laufer, Mr. Stern took the reins of a local senior program that, as was the case in Orange County, had approached the county’s Hamaspik program to assume and inject fresh leadership.


Several weeks later, on the morning of Tuesday, April 25, Hamaspik of Rockland County officially began doing what Hamaspik of Orange County has long been doing—running a successful Senior Dining/Social Day program entitled Shnois Chaim.


From the moment they stepped out their front doors (or were respectfully rolled forth in wheelchairs) until they were respectfully transported back home, and at every point between, the participating seniors—each a family/community patriarch in his own right—received all reverence due.


At 10:00 a.m., the group of seniors arrived for their program’s first day under Hamaspik’s exemplary touch. 


The ballroom at the Hamaspik Terrace had been elegantly set up with round tables for a fresh hot lunch to be served later in the day, and a partitioned classroom area set up to the side for Shnois Chaim’s daily adult education class.


The program warmed up with a warm-up of the gastronomical variety, with coffee and tea set out in a choice of varieties and flavors.  Attendants—some of whom had accompanied the gentlemen from their homes—stood by to assist them in preparing their hot drinks.


A round of therapeutic stretching and breathing exercises with specialist Mordechai Genut, MS, L.AC followed, with the gentlemen gently flexing and bending limbs to help maintain and build muscle tone, and improve the body’s overall health and healing capacity—important at any age and certainly at their station in life.


After tending to body came the day’s much-anticipated tending of mind and soul—with a respected and experienced local adult-education instructor (who asked not to be named in the Gazette for personal reasons) leading students in an inspirational group session.


Though many years their junior, the teacher made a rapt audience out of the assembled seniors in an impressive combination of vocabulary, depth and wit demanded by such “seasoned citizens”—a combination that delivers by what is not said as much as by what is.


Doing Lunch


Following the near-hour of intellectual stimulation, the gentlemen were served with a freshly-prepared and rigorously regulated lunch. 


Being the central axis of the publicly-funded program that it is, the dining must meet numerous specific nutritional requirements laid out by the county Dept. of Social Services—ensuring that participating seniors not only get a good hot lunch every day, but one that meets key health needs, too.


For example, each senior must be served a minimum number of portions consisting of proteins, and carbohydrates, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables.  Water must also be provided.


Not only must the menu pass county muster, but the cleanliness and hygiene of the food preparation area—kitchen counters, appliances and all—must meet minimal health standards so as to maintain program compliance.


As the gentlemen first made their way to the lunch tables and were immediately served, Shnois Chaim’s Yeshaya Stern, and his beneficiaries’ aides, hove near, literally lending their helping hands to seat the gentlemen, place plates, pour drinks and answer any and all questions.


Affirming values


As the Shnois Chaim special luncheon drew to a close, Hamaspik Gazette Yiddish Editor Zishe Muller, serving as Rosh Chodesh lunch emcee, rose to share a few words.


In his folksy style, Mr. Muller—himself the grandson of the legendary Rabbi Yankel Muller (a.k.a. “the Yarmer Ruv”)—shared what an honor it was for the agency to have the opportunity to honor its community’s elders, especially in assisting them in tending to body and spirit alike.


The adult education instructor was then briefly introduced by Mr. Stern, proceeding to share a few inspirational comments on the rightful place of seniors in the community—and also echoing Mr. Muller’s sense of honor and service.


That theme was next expanded upon by Meyer Wertheimer, founder of Hamaspik and Executive Director of Hamaspik of Rockland County.  In his brief but heartfelt words, Mr. Wertheimer talked about the concept of service, specifically serving those greater than one’s self, be that in years, wisdom, or both.


Following the traditional Birkas Hamozon (Grace after Meals) prayer, the crowd dispersed, with Hamaspik’s employees returning to their desks and the honored seniors returning home.


But while all went back to their daily routines, none left without that indescribable feeling that a community’s dearest values had just been underscored—and more with what was done, not said.


Membership in a New York State Managed Long Term Care (MLTC) Plan is required for seniors to join Hamaspik of Rockland County’s new Shnois Chaim program.  For more information, please contact Senior Day Services Coordinator Yeshaya Stern directly at 845-503-0844.