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2017-09-08 digital edition

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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


September 8, 2017  RSS feed
Front Page

Text: T T T

Elderly pass night peacefully as Hurricane Irma rages

By BOB FRYER Jewish Press

Rabbi Leah Herz, left, and Janice LeVine, at the piano, lead Menorah Manor staff and their family meters in song during the Hurricane Irma. Rabbi Leah Herz, left, and Janice LeVine, at the piano, lead Menorah Manor staff and their family meters in song during the Hurricane Irma. While many fretted in darkness as Hurricane Irma battered the region, some weathered the storm in style, staying in facilities where the lights, television and internet never went out, hot showers and three hot meals a day were offered and day care for kids was a reality.

That is how it was for those who stayed at Jewish centers for the elderly in Tampa Bay. “I heard a quote somewhere that ‘The worst natural disaster can bring out the best in human nature’ and I think that was true for us,” said Rob Goldstein, CEO of Menorah Manor, the St. Petersburg institution that serves a number of frail and elderly Jewish residents at the Toby Weinman Assisted Living Residence and the Marion and Bernard L. Samson Nursing Center.

There and at Weinberg Village, an assisted living facility on the Maureen and Douglas Cohn Jewish Community Campus in Citrus Park, northwest of Tampa, some of the most vulnerable members of the Jewish community were in good hands.

Menorah Manor CEO Rob Goldstein walked the halls with Major, the 1-year-old son of a staffer. Menorah Manor CEO Rob Goldstein walked the halls with Major, the 1-year-old son of a staffer. At both institutions the management teams followed news of the storm and began preparations days in advance of it hitting here – stocking up on food, medications, water, snacks, nursing and emergency supplies and fuel for back-up generators.

The storm left those in Menorah Manor facilities and at Weinberg Village virtually unscathed. When the power went out in St. Petersburg a back-up generator switched on seamlessly, and at Weinberg Village, the facility never even had to use its generator.

“Staff and families came in to stay during the hurricane and we were so prepared that the event was uneventful. Of course, you have to consider how fortunate it was that it did not hit us as a Category 5 but more as a .5,” said Dan Sultan, executive director at Weinberg Village.

At both Menorah Manor facilities and at Weinberg Village, staff workers were invited to bring their families and pets and stay for the duration of the storm – a move that not only ensured an abundance of staff help but had the added bonus of staff family members pitching in to help in a variety of ways.

“It was an unbelievable sight to watch the families arrive on Saturday. We had people greet them at the front door to welcome them like they were coming to s 5-star hotel,” Goldstein said, noting that during the storm the Menorah Manor facilities housed about 180 residents, 100 staff members and 200 family members.

At Weinberg Village there are about 80 elderly residents and they were joined throughout the storm by about 25 staff members and 25 staff family members, including one child only 6 months old and the 65-year-old mother of a staff member.

At 2 a.m. Monday as the storm was hitting hard, Goldstein was walking the halls with Major, the 1-year-old son of a staffer, in his arms, trying to keep the wiggly child from waking others. Later, Major sat on a sleeping bag in Goldstein’s office, next to Goldstein’s dog – both baby and dog content.

At Weinberg Village, people watched the movie Mama Mia during the storm. Across the bay at Menorah Manor, Janice LeVine, wife of Menorah Manor’s medical director Dr. David LeVine, played the piano, just to take her mind off things. Soon she was surrounded by children and they had a sing-along as the kids requested Bruno Mars tunes. Rabbi Leah Herz, Menorah Manor’s staff rabbi, joined in.

When an elderly woman developed a tooth problem, Dr. LeVine determined it needed to be pulled – something he had never done before. “He consulted with colleagues on the outside and found what he needed for the job and pulled her tooth, using topical anesthetic. She did beautifully,” said Judy Ludin, chief development and community relations officer for Menorah Manor.

At the facilities on both sides of the Bay, the routine of regular activities was maintained for the residents and kosher meals were offered three times a day. Wi-Fi was available for all to keep other relatives and friends up to date on how they were weathering the hurricane.

Goldstein at Menorah Manor and Sultan at Weinberg Village both credited their staffs for an excellent job of caring for the residents at their facilities and making the residents feel safe and secure.

After the storm passed, some Menorah Manor staff members found their homes had no power and were allowed to stay on, with their families. At Weinberg Village, one staffer who was not immediately allowed back into her home, stayed an extra night.

Because schools were closed for the entire week in Pinellas County, daycare service for Menorah Manor staff family members was offered through the end of the week.

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