Paintings of Jewish life in prewar Poland at The Reutlinger Community

A new exhibit at the Jewish Heritage Museum at The Reutlinger Community in Danville features reproductions of famed Polish artist Moshe Rynecki’s paintings of prewar Jewish life in Warsaw.

Oakland resident Elizabeth Rynecki, the artist’s great-granddaughter, discovered the journals of Moshe’s son George after his death, which inspired her to write a book called “Chasing Portraits: A Great-Granddaughter’s Quest for Her Lost Art Legacy.” She also produced a documentary film released in 2018.


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Teens, seniors collaborate on documentary film project

A film festival is coming to Danville and Doris Leiber, 93, is “absolutely” going.

“I’m inviting everybody I know!” she said enthusiastically. That’s because Leiber is the star of one of eight mini-documentaries about Jewish elders created by teenagers as part of the Better Together program, a collaboration between students from Contra Costa Midrasha and residents of the Reutlinger Community senior living center.

“If we don’t listen to their stories now, we might not have that chance,” program creative director Hannah Lesser said. “Time is of the essence.”

The May 21 premiere at Reutlinger is the culmination of seven months of interviewing, filming and editing, but it’s also a celebration of passing wisdom from one generation to the next.

“That’s kind of the beauty of it — you guys both work together,” said 17-year-old high school senior Molly Appleby.

Molly smiles with her arm around Henia, who is seated in a wheelchair

A national Jewish program funded by a philanthropist, Better Together awards grants for projects that help students foster their Jewish identity through intergenerational relationships. The program always encourages young people to meet with elders, but it was Devra Aarons, director of Contra Costa Midrasha and a former television producer, who came up with the idea of creating documentaries — partly as a way to get students interested, but also to help create a real bond.


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Reutlinger seeks funding for Holocaust survivors and other residents in need

For years, the Reutlinger Community has quietly assisted Holocaust survivors and residents who have simply run out of money and otherwise could not afford to stay at the senior residence.

Now, the facility’s Resident Assistance Fund itself is in need of aid.

The Reutlinger Community/Schiff Center for Life has asked rabbis at East Bay and Tri-Valley synagogues to help get the word out that the fund can no longer keep up with residents’ needs.

Declaring May 19 and 20 “Shabbat Across the East Bay,” the Danville Jewish senior living facility hopes to raise awareness of the “critical need in the community” to bolster the account. So far, six congregations have signed on.

“As residents enter the community today, they do so older, frailer, and with fewer financial resources than in the past,” Reutlinger CEO Jay Zimmer said in a letter to area rabbis. “Our excellent care has allowed residents to live longer lives, but in the process of doing so they often deplete their financial resources and require a subsidy to meet their expenses. The cost of those subsidies now approaches $1 million annually — an amount we can no longer sustain financially.”

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Danville: Senior center ‘Opening Minds Through Art’

DANVILLE — It’s Tuesday afternoon at the Reutlinger Community assisted living center, and resident Jean Jones is wasting no time heading down to the art room.

She’s not all that convinced that painting is her forte, but she knows that for the next couple of hours, she’ll be the one calling the shots and enjoying the company of her favorite art buddy — 17-year-old Monte Vista High School junior Dean Begun, of Alamo.

On this day, Jones and her fellow residents will create something unexpectedly beautiful — on paper and personally — through a program called “Opening Minds Through Art” (OMA). The program is in its second year of operation at Reutlinger and based on a curriculum developed at Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University in Ohio.


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Trustee Marc Usatin, MD Receives 2017 Trustee of the Year Award from AJAS

Congratulations to our trustee, Dr. Marc Usatin on being selected as Trustee of the Year by the AJAS Board of Directors and their Awards Committee. This is truly a distinct honor.

Dr. Marc Usatin, a current trustee, is also our immediate past board president.  He became involved with The Reutlinger about 12 years ago, after frequenting The Reutlinger to pay visits to his mother. Combining his interest in medicine and eldercare, he joined the board’s clinical services committee.

“I tend to get involved in things,” he commented.

Dr. Usatin is quite humble in making this statement. Besides serving on the Board of The Reutlinger, he founded Congregation B’nai Tikvah in Walnut Creek in 1981 and was president from 1981 to 1986; he has served on the board of the Contra Costa Jewish Day School; was medical director for Camp Swig and Camp Newman; and served on the Permanente Medical Group’s Board of Directors.

He is a retired pediatrician and neonatologist from the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Walnut Creek, and the former director of neonatal services for Kaiser Permanente in Northern California.

“My initial interest in joining the clinical services committee at The Reutlinger was to assist the board in its push to be world-class in healthcare for seniors,” he said. “Interestingly, my professional training is in neonatology, the exact opposite end of the spectrum of Reutlinger residents. The next thing I knew, I was nominated to become chair, and then I simply moved upward until I reached my past position as board president.”


Elders advocate promotes ‘conscious aging,’ activism

First came the noshes. Some two dozen seniors gathered around the snack table, sampling hummus and pita, cookies and baby carrots, while chatting away.

Then Barry Barkan, crowned with a jumbo green-and-white kippah, gradually maneuvered them into a circle, calling to order the latest meeting of the Elders’ Guild at the North Berkeley Senior Center.

“This is the moment our whole lives have prepared us for,” Barkan told them with a hint of urgency. “We have gotten wisdom about how to rise above our anger. Our work is to pull the blessing out of difficulties.”

Technically, he was referring to the proper response to the recent election of Donald Trump as the country’s next president, something that dismayed the decidedly liberal crowd. But his message could have applied to any circumstance.


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The Corner View: November 2016

In our Fall 2016 newsletter, we introduced Unidine as our new food services provider as of October 2016. The selection of Unidine supports our mission of bringing the best of senior living to our residents knowing that dining is one of the most important factors to their health and wellness.

So far, our residents are very pleased with the seasonal and regional menu they are providing. There is a carving station for open-faced sandwiches, a hydration station of naturally flavored waters, and of course excellent cuisine at all meals.

I would like to introduce to three members of the Unidine team; and, urge you to inquire about any special needs. Please note that Nicole Moore, a registered dietician, will be available to the entire community.



Director of Dinning Services – Jeanette Choate

Jeanette Choate is a Director of Dining Services with Unidine Corporation. In this role, she leads the culinary and service team at Reutlinger to provide and exceed our residents’ expectations in menu creativity, service excellence and the dining experience. Jeanette is no stranger to setting goals to achieve strategic partnerships and excellence in customer satisfaction, having spent close to 30 years as a manager and director. Throughout her career she has worked for Guckenheimer, Compass Group and Unidine Corporation.

In her personal life Jeanette spends her time with her husband of 35 years, two daughters and 8 grandchildren (seven boys and 1 princess!). She thrives on cooking, hiking, camping and boating.

Executive Chef – John (Jake) Zetner

Jake Zentner grew up in a family where the focus was on “beef, it’s what’s for dinner”, after all his great grandfather owned and operated family-style steakhouses in Texas. From Jake’s roots he ate and cooked his way up through high school taking part-time jobs at the local valley  food restaurants. After completing his academic education Jake followed the passion he knew was in his heart and enrolled at the prestigious Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island. As a full-time student, Jake held various culinary and public health positions. Inspired by the lack of healthy options in the food service industry, he continued into the nutrition program and graduated with a bachelors in Culinary Nutrition. Upon completing his degree Jake began a career as personal chef and cooked for notable celebrities such as Candace Bergen, former Rhode Island Senator Myrth York, and businessman Thomas James Perkins.

Jake enjoyed 12 years on the East Coast; however, the cold winter weather made him long for the mild California weather.  Last year’s Eastern winter storms convinced Jake to move back to California to pursue his culinary/nutrition career on the West Coast.  Jake currently is a resident of Orinda.  On his days off, you can find Jake cruising Highway 1 looking for the next great eatery or cooking for his future wife. Jake recently joined Unidine is very excited that his passion for nutrition and cooking goes so well with Unidine’s company mission of providing “made from scratch cooking” to the residents.

Register Dietician – Nicole Moore

Nicole Moore is a recent Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) graduate and transplant from Portland, OR. Prior to pursuing her dietetic Internship at OHSU, Nicole received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nutrition from California State University, Chico. Nicole’s interests in nutrition include, Motivational Interviewing, nutrition support, research and quality improvement and malnutrition.

For fun, Nicole enjoys traveling and exploring, trying new cuisines, crafting, and watching HGTV’s House Hunters. Nicole is very passionate about all things nutrition and is especially excited to serve the residents of The Reutlinger community.

Nicole will be available to the entire community to help and answer questions regarding dietary needs.

I am very excited to have this team who will ensure that every meal is an experience to be savored.



Jay Zimmer, CEO




The 24th AWE Exhibition Reception and Gala Celebration was a wonder-filled day for all 100 resident-artists, their friends, families and caregivers as well as the staff and board of AWE who create this blessed event each year. The exhibit and program took place in the historic Gerald Simon Auditorium (Bing Crosby used to broadcast his White Christmas Show there), at Laguna Honda Hospital in the San Francisco Twin Peaks area.

The residents in the show excitedly discovered their own paintings hung with a beautiful bio and black and white photograph of themselves. As viewers in the large room proceeded to move through the exhibit, the entire show was being projected on the stage visible to all the tables.

Light refreshments were brought to the tables and the celebration continued both before and after the program; each artist’s name was called by their teacher from the podium. Mark Campbell, the executive director dedicated the show to AWE’s founder, Brent Nettle.   Mark inspired us saying that beyond the beauty created and the benefits to the artists, one of the main reasons for this program to exist is for this elder generation to teach all the others generations how to age! They teach us to ignore any cultural negativity, defy the “limiting ways of being” we are taught, and live a completely, glorious life filled with creativity, beauty and achievement-our entire lives!

It is such an honor to work toward this day and then see everyone light up with inspiration, and a recognition and  celebration of the human spirit. This year our Reutlinger party included 41 people!!!!! There is much that goes on behind the scenes to make this happen. Thank you to every single person in Nursing, Vickie in the salon, Dietary, Concierge(s), Activities who contributed and special a thank you to Abdul and Ramiro who delivered us safely, Kim, Jackie, and Sue for taking care of us on the trip.

Thank you to the families of the artists for joining us and making it an especially memorable day, our friends Evelyn Ostreicher, Bob Dematteis, Sybil Marblestone, and Selma Moses, Shonny and Joe Potozkin and last but not least, our honored artists who created such stunning work:

Michie Takashima, Loraine Hornbeck, Maher Salama, Fran Dobin, Rita R. Goldman, Katarina, Kivel, and Rhoda Wasserman.

Betty Rothaus, Artist-In-Residence
bobev bob_loraine fran-_maherjpg fran_deb fran_jackie katarina_fam loraine maher-therese_bet maher_fam rhoda_susan rita-gerry-sue selma_kim shon_bet shonny_joe takashima-fam abdulramiro-evelyn

Assisted Living Proven to Improve Quality of Life for Seniors


A Place For Mom, one of the largest senior living referral services in the United States, recently conducted a study into the quality of life of seniors and their families. In a survey of family members, 73% of survey respondents said that a move to Assisted Living improved the quality of life for the seniors in their family. A majority of subjects interviewed reported improvements in seniors’ social lives and nutrition and significant pluralities reported improvement in their emotional well-being and physical health.  Seniors who completed the move to Assisted Living were 70% more likely to report a good quality of life than those who only contemplated such a move but failed to act on it.

“We’ve seen this reality for years” said Carla Adamic, Director of Marketing for The Reutlinger Community, “there is occasionally some hesitation to make the big leap to assisted living, but we find that most residents thrive in their new environment and they and their families actually grow closer.”

60% of family caregivers also reported an improvement in their own quality of life and little to no difference in financial strain. Just as importantly, fully half said their relationship with the senior in their family improved because of the move.

“We encourage people to ignore myths and hearsay and actually come in and visit communities like The Reutlinger,” said Adamic. “We think the quality of life on offer speaks for itself.”

Babies and 100-Year-Olds Making “Music Together” at The Reutlinger Community



Reutlinger Community Residents are bonding with babies and toddlers through music-making, created by the international award-winning early childhood music program MUSIC TOGETHER®.


Rowena Morgan, Director of Music Together Tri-Valley, explains, “This is a highlight of the week for many senior residents as well as the staff. Some participants simply light up when they come to class in ways the facility doesn’t see with any other activity. The combination of music and children is just magical. Each elder participates in their own way: Some grandfriends actively absorb the experience, clearly delighting in watching and listening; others love singing along, tapping their feet and shaking the instruments along with the families. And although most elders sing and dance from their chairs, some are even able to get up and boogie with us! The children and parents love it, too; it’s become an important weekly ritual and an invaluable part of their family’s life. There is an instant connection between elders and families that is incredible to witness. For many of the families as well as many of the elder participants, extended family live far away and so there is a kind of surrogate family created through the Music Together class. Music Together directors like myself are so proud to be bringing people together across generations in our communities. We are bringing back something essential that’s been lost: intergenerational music-making.”

Music is an essential part of being human. Support for music learning in early childhood can yield both life-long skill and enjoyment in music experiences. While Music Together’s core program serves families with children ages 0-5, it’s a natural extension of that core mission to include intergenerational class experiences where families attend class with elders at a senior day or residential facility. These special kinds of Music Together classes have been beloved now for years as more and more communities recognize the unique power of making music together across generations.

Rowena Morgan adds, “Strangers or not, within minutes everyone is part of our music-making family in a Generations Class. The idea that music bonds people is never more obvious and meaningful than during the time we spend at The Reutlinger.”