Art is Alive and Well for the Residents of the Reutlinger

14th Annual Exhibit Showcases Residents’ Art

Danville, CA (February 16, 2015) – Fifty years ago, Maher Salama, a resident at The Reutlinger Community for Jewish Living, enjoyed swimming and rowing. “I used to take my wife to the Club Nautique Hellenic and row there on the banks of the great river followed by dinner together,” he remembers.

His graphite and watercolor painting about those long-ago days on the River Nile is on display in the 14th Annual Exhibition of Art at The Reutlinger, located in the San Francisco Bay Area town of Danville, CA.

The exhibition reflects the work of the 70-, 80- and 90-year olds who participate in the facility’s awardwinning art program, which will celebrate its silver anniversary in September.

The largest piece in the show, a portrait by Rhoda Wasserman, is a graphite/oil on canvas panel. Making art, she said, “is a matter of a good choice, working it through, and coming to a completion. Even if an idea doesn’t work into the current painting, it might work in the next.” A 5-inch sculpture by Harriet Rotman, a resident who just started coming to the art room, is the show’s most petite piece.

Opening the show is a landscape, “Seafoam Crest,” that is a composite of the artist’s memories of northern and southern California. “We used to go to Pescadero Beach when we were youngsters, where we watched the waves come in over the rocks, felt the wind and frolicked in the water chasing the waves,” said its creator, Michie Takashima. Michie incorporated the foam “working up in the water and then floating away” and added Glendale palms “to give the painting more color, contrast and space,” she explained.

Ruth Janger began her painting without knowing how it would look when finished. As she progressed, she felt she “needed more” and remembered her mother saying, “Don’t look for the gold, you’ll find it. The gold will always be there. Now, I know this image was in my mind all the time,” she said, and named her work “All That Glitters is Not Gold.”

Such exceptional results would not happen without Betty Rothaus, MFA. She is the full-time Artist-inResidence/Director of the Art Program at The Reutlinger. Rothaus meets several times a week, individually and in groups, with any resident, including those in the memory care units, who is Media Contact: Jeanine Genauer The JPR Group (973) 980-0100 jgenauer@jprgroup.com interested. “Being available full time provides a consistency that allows a much greater involvement from the residents,” she said.

“Everyone does their own thing,” Rothaus said. “I try to help them clarify and realize their vision, and what they want to do.” The residents come to the program with a wide range of skill levels, from some who were dedicated to art all their lives to those who remember doing art as children.”

“People benefit so much from making art,” said Rothaus. “It is expression; they learn a new visual language, develop skills in composition and color. It gives them so much to think about outside of any problems they may have. It is positive and healthy and something to look forward to.” The show, aptly titled “Discovering the Artist Within,” is a major event for The Reutlinger, said CEO Jay Zimmer.

In addition to the exhibition, he said, there is “always art at the Reutlinger. Beautiful works of art are permanently displayed throughout the building; over 350 of these are resident creations.” Fourteen Reutlinger artists were chosen to be represented in the 2015 calendar for the California Association of Healthcare Facilities. Reutlinger artists also exhibit at well-known public venues through a collaboration with the Eldergivers “Art With Elders” program, and in exhibitions at Jewish facilities throughout the Bay area. In a few months, the Reutlinger will hold a reception for families, residents, staff and visitors.

The resident artists will read their statements and add a few words, if they wish, while their art is shown. “It is a very moving program to see and then hear what the residents have experienced and achieved,” said Zimmer. “It is especially meaningful to have their families sharing this day.” The art show is on display in the main building through the end of the year at 4000 Camino Tassajara, open 9am to 5pm seven days a week through the end of the year.

For more information, call 925-964- 2034 or email betty.rothaus@gmail.com. “All generations may learn about living and aging gracefully from our residents; we also look to them for how to age with meaning and purpose,” said Rothaus. “In this exhibition, our elders share their secrets, teaching us about living full lives, and that possibilities of growth, fulfilling our dreams and blessings always await us.” The Reutlinger Community for Jewish Living is a multi-level care facility that is home to 180 residents living in the Sukkat Shalom Skilled Nursing unit, Assisted Living apartments, the Tikvah Enhanced Care Center and the Traditions Memory Care Center. It is rated 5 stars by the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. # # # Photos: Reutlinger1-Michie Takashima Reutlinger2-Ruth Janger Reutlinger3-Rhoda Wasserman

Jay Zimmer Appointed Chief Executive Officer of Reutlinger Community for Jewish Living

Danville, CA (November 19, 2014) – The Board of Directors of The Reutlinger Community for Jewish Living is pleased to announce the hiring of Jay Zimmer, MBA as the new CEO of the senior living community. The appointment comes at a time that RCJL will be undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation, Renew Reutlinger. The Reutlinger is a five-star rated multi-level, faith-based, nonprofit senior care organization that welcomes people of all faiths and backgrounds, with an emphasis on Jewish values.

“Our nationwide search yielded many promising applicants but we were impressed with Jay’s experience in not only senior living, but all aspects of healthcare. Jay is a proven leader and innovator and we look forward to him leading us into the challenging new age of senior healthcare. He will be instrumental in the implementation of our new strategic plan developed in coordination with our consultants, Health Dimensions. Jay will be reaching out to the community-at-large as well as our East Bay Jewish community,” stated Dr. Marc Usatin, Board President.

The Board noted Zimmer’s leadership style saying it lends itself well to overseeing the care of their residents, staff and The Reutlinger’s renovation initiative. “He’s demonstrated a facilitative style, balancing equally between process, relationships, and results,” commented Dr. Usatin.

Zimmer says his leadership will be inclusive and encourage feedback and input from the Board, the community-at-large, residents, front-line staff, and the management team in order to continually elevate the quality of care and services offered.

“I’m very impressed with the RCJL team, their commitment to excellence in care, their friendly attitude and smiling faces. It’s great to see people who seem happy to come to work each day, demonstrate a great deal of respect for our residents and their families, and take their responsibility to provide outstanding, compassionate care seriously,” expressed Zimmer regarding his new team.

By utilizing his superior knowledge of the industry that he has gained over the past 20 years, and commitment to care of the aging, Zimmer will position The Reutlinger as the area’s premier senior living community that provides a continuum of care to age in place.

“Over the next few years the eldercare industry will experience rapid change in how care is delivered and for how it is reimbursed. The Reutlinger has planned and prepared for future changes and is poised to select and work effectively with partners in hospitals, home-health, hospice and rehabilitation spaces. Expanding our community presence, exploring new opportunities, and securing our future will be primary in achieving our goals,” he explained in discussing his vision of the industry and The Reutlinger.

As CEO, his goals initially will be to guide the community through a multi-million dollar physical plant renovation; develop a comprehensive marketing, repositioning, and branding plan; create a long-term development strategy to increase RCJL’s endowment; and, establish relationships, affiliations, and partnerships that will provide those pieces of the care-model continuum that cannot be accommodated in-house.

In his off hours, you can expect to find Jay Zimmer enjoying the outdoors running, hiking or cycling; or spending time with his wife Rochelle Blank-Zimmer, Nutrition and Health Counselor, Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) and The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Columbia Teacher’s College, NY, NY, three children, four grandchildren and of course, the family dog, Samantha (Sammy).

About Jay Zimmer

Jay Zimmer has over 20 years of senior management experience across the full spectrum of healthcare – university medical schools, community hospitals, large multi-specialty physician practices, long-term post-acute care and healthcare consulting. He has held senior level positions in healthcare strategic planning, hospital administration, healthcare mergers and acquisitions, continuing care retirement community (CCRC) administration, healthcare facility construction, renovation and rehabilitation. He has been directly involved in more than $750 million dollars of hospital, ambulatory, long-term care and CCRC design, construction and renovation projects. Jay served for many years on the Board and Executive Committee of The Jewish Federation of Atlantic and Cape May Counties and The Seashore Gardens/Hebrew Old Age Home, where he also served as President of the Seashore Gardens Foundation. During his time with Seashore Gardens, a brand new community was developed, replacing the former skilled nursing home with a state of the art skilled unit, assisted living, memory care and market-based congregate housing for the elderly. Jay holds two Masters Degrees – one in Psychology (MA) from the New School for Social Research, and one in Business Administration (MBA) from the Zicklin School of Business, Baruch College, City University of New York.

About The Reutlinger Community for Jewish Living

Established in 1950, The Reutlinger is a non-profit senior living community that is proud to offer a true continuum of care from Independent Living, Assisted Living, Enhanced Assisted Living, Memory Care and Skilled Nursing including Short-term Rehabilitation. Located in the beautiful rolling hills of Danville, CA. The Reutlinger offers a full range of activity programming in every level of care 7 days a week; and welcomes people of all faiths and backgrounds, with an emphasis on Jewish values. For more information visit www.rjcl.org. # # #

Seniors: Local seniors use sacred chanting to welcome Shabbat

“You shall rise before the aged and show honor to the elder.” —  Leviticus 19:32

That’s a directive Jeanette Gross has taken to heart, and repeats often, especially on Friday mornings. That’s when the Oakland resident convenes a sacred chant group at Reutlinger Community for Jewish Living in Danville, something she’s been doing for the past 11 years.

Once a month, Gross comes to the Reutlinger synagogue, where she leads residents in an hour of chanting Hebrew phrases from the Torah or other Jewish sources, as a way to welcome Shabbat.

With chanting, “we repeat the same phrase over and over,” Gross told the 12 elderly participants at a recent session. “It’s a different way of prayer. It’s a meditation on the prayer. And by repeating it many times, we look at the prayer in a different way. We take a new approach to the prayer by singing it over and over.”

Gross was introduced to Jewish chanting in the mid-’90s. Her husband went on a retreat led by Jewish Buddhist teacher Sylvia Boorstein and Rabbi Shefa Gold, who is known in the Jewish Renewal movement for her beautiful chanting. Even with two small children at home, Gross’ husband wanted his wife to experience what he did. And when she did, she was hooked.

She attended Gold’s Kol Zimra leadership training program in New Mexico, and now is a trained chant leader.

“Chanting is magical for me, it opened up prayer in a whole new way,” said Gross. “I fell in love with this practice.”

Though Jewish Renewal congregations have long been incorporating chant into their services, Gross belongs to Lafayette’s Temple Isaiah, which is Reform. “I didn’t know of any chanting groups, and I was wanting a chanting community,” she said. She began such a group at Isaiah in 1997, and after Reutlinger opened in 2000, Gross was asked to come chant with the residents as a one-time gig.

“The first time, I had someone storm out with her walker,” she recalled. But even with that less than auspicious start, she was asked to return, and now is in her 12th year of leading a monthly group. “It fills me up to chant with them, even with the ones who don’t like it.”

Each time, the group is a mix of regulars and newcomers. Gross passes out a sheet of paper with that day’s chants on it, so everyone can follow along. Some chant with her, some just listen and some doze off.

And sometimes, residents speak up about what a certain verse or prayer means to them; others ask questions.

Geraldine Gluckman, who is 104, has been coming to the monthly chanting sessions since the beginning. She says the chanting gives her a “relaxing feeling,” a nice way to bring in Shabbat.

Bess Meek, 79, also has been coming since the beginning. She had never done anything like it before, and the experience inspired her to write a poem about it. “I hope it never ends,” she said. “It brings me peace.”

Gross spends the hour moving from prayers expressing gratitude and thanks to God, to those for healing. After each chant ends, the group sits in silence for a few minutes, to meditate or reflect on the words that were sung.

“We all need healing in some way, either physically or somewhere inside,” Gross told the group. “We all have those places that are hurting, broken and bruised, as well as times in our lives that hurt us.”

One chant incorporated arm movements, which some of the residents performed, waving their arms above their heads as they sang.

At the end of their time together, Gross got up and made eye contact with each resident, as the group sang “Shabbat Shalom” together. This can often be the most meaningful time for her, she said; even if the seniors have been dozing during the chanting, at this moment, they are very much awake.

“I learn something from them each time I come,” said Gross. “It really is such an honor for me to do this.”

Ellen Schaefer, a member of the activities staff at Reutlinger, said the chanting circle brings something unique to the residents.

“It’s a chance to get away from the everyday worries and chatter that goes on in their minds,” she said. “Over time the class has become larger, with many more residents participating now.

“We do a lot of group activities here, but this is very special, there’s nothing else quite like it.”