Arizona Jewish Life 2020-05-22T16:30:51Z WordPress PR & Wire Services <![CDATA[Memory Café Goes Virtual]]> 2020-05-22T16:30:51Z 2020-05-22T16:30:51Z

Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JFCS) is proud to announce its first virtual Memory Café, to be held via ZOOM on Thursday, June 4 from 10-11 am.

The Memory Café is a meeting place for those with changes in their thinking or memory, mild cognitive impairment or dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease or a related disorder, along with their care partners.

This month’s music program will feature the multi-talented Dan Kurek, who will lead a fun sing-along session of familiar tunes from the 30s-60s.  Participants are encouraged to sing along, bang a pan, tap a foot or simply enjoy.  Participants will be “muted” during the actual songs, allowing everyone to sing along as loudly and as off-key as they would like!  Plus, folks should feel free to join even in their pj’s.

There is no cost to the participants.  You must have a computer, tablet, laptop or phone to join in.  JFCS will have volunteers available to assist folks coming on – particularly those who haven’t yet used Zoom.

This month’s café is sponsored in part by Home Instead Senior Care, a trusted source of in-home elderly care services in the Valley.  Home Instead is also providing prizes to winners of contests including:  Who can sing the highest note?  What about the lowest?  Among others.

“Perhaps a silver lining in our current situation,” states JFCS’ Janet Rees, “is that having a virtual café will enable us to provide programming inside people’s homes. We know it’s not always easy to get out even in ‘normal’ times when a family is living with dementia.  We’re so happy to be able to bring this program to those who need it.”

Home Instead representative Craig Boutte explained why their company wanted to help. “We so appreciate the wonderful work that JFCS is doing through their Cafes, and knew that we wanted Home Instead to be a part of this. It fits in perfectly with our belief in providing quality in-home care.”

JFCS is requesting RSVPs by Friday, May 29.  Please respond to  You will receive an invitation to join the Zoom Meeting by 9 am on Thursday, June 4.  If you need assistance in learning about Zoom, please indicate that in your e-mail.  The memory café on July 2 will feature dance and movement specialist, Michelle Dionisio.

Additional support for the Memory Café comes from the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Phoenix, the Arizona Commission on the Arts.

Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JFCS) is a non-profit, non-sectarian organization that strengthens the community by providing behavioral health, healthcare and social services to all ages, faiths and backgrounds.  JFCS’ goal is for a future where families are strong, elders are cared for and children are safe.  More information is available at

Staff Writer <![CDATA[Older individuals and COVID-19]]> 2020-05-21T18:40:26Z 2020-05-21T16:39:55Z

Coronaviruses, named for its crownlike shape, are a large family of viruses that are common in many species of animals. Several coronaviruses can infect people, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. These strains mostly cause cold-like symptoms but can sometimes progress to more complicated lower respiratory tract illnesses, such as pneumonia or bronchitis.

On rare occasions, animal coronaviruses can evolve and spread among humans, as seen with MERS and SARS. The virus at the center of the latest outbreak is being referred to as a novel (new) coronavirus, since it’s something that health officials have not seen before.

Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more severe complications from COVID-19 illness.

Symptoms of COVID-19 can range from mild symptoms to severe illness and death. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. Watch for fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

Dr. Sonja Rosen, MD, is chief of geriatric medicine at Cedars-Sinai in Beverly Hills, CA, and has been practicing for 19 years. AZJL reached out to Dr. Rosen and asked her questions specifically related to older individuals and COVID-19. Here are the questions and her responses:


AZJL: Other than underlying health conditions, what makes seniors so vulnerable to COVID-19?

Dr. Rosen: With aging, the body produces fewer immune cells, including white blood cells. Older people are essentially somewhat immunocompromised, as the fewer immune cells also don’t communicate as well with each other.


AZJL: If a person is healthy, but over 65, are they still at a higher risk of complications?

Dr. Rosen: Yes, because people over 65 have fewer immune cells, which means it takes longer to react to harmful germs, and healing can be slowed.


AZJL: What are some medical conditions that make contracting the virus more difficult to recover from?

Dr. Rosen: The most significant diseases are underlying lung diseases, disease that compromise the immune system (like lymphoma or leukemia), undergoing treatment that compromises the immune system (like chemotherapy), severe heart disease, dialysis patients and people with diabetes.


AZJL: What are the best precautions seniors can take to avoid getting COVID-19?

Dr. Rosen: The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus by sheltering in place at home. Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread the virus.  Wash your hands often.

If you absolutely have to go out for essential things like groceries or for medications from the pharmacy, make sure to wear a mask and again, wash your hands frequently. If available, wear disposable gloves.

If possible, try to have food and medications delivered instead of going out, and ask the delivery person to leave it outside your door so you can avoid face-to-face, in-person contact.


AZJL: What should they do if a household member or caretaker gets COVID-19?

Dr. Rosen: It is important to isolate from that caretaker or household member, paying special attention to not use the same bathroom or food products.


AZJL: Any other advice for seniors during this time?

Dr. Rosen: Try to stay physically active at home. There are a lot of video and online activities, including exercise classes. Try also to stay socially connected from home, calling your friends and family and using a video chat or FaceTime if you can. There are several online programs that combine exercise and socializing – check with your local department of aging to find out more. Reach out to your city or county if you are food or other supply insecure – there are multiple efforts to feed and help supply older residents with essentials – reach out for help.


The CDC also recommends that seniors develop a care plan. During the COVID-19 pandemic, having a care plan is an essential part of emergency preparedness.

A care plan summarizes your health conditions, medications, healthcare providers, emergency contacts, and end-of-life care options (for example, advance directives). Complete your care plan in consultation with your doctor, and if needed, with help from a family member or home nurse aide.

Care plans can help reduce emergency room visits and hospitalizations, and improve overall medical management for people with a chronic health condition, resulting in a better quality of life.

It’s also important to stock up on over-the-counter medications to treat fever, cough and other symptoms, as well as tissues and standard medical supplies.

Major health insurers have pledged to relax prescription refill limits on “maintenance medications” in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Prescription refill limits are also being waived for many Medicare Advantage and Part D beneficiaries.

If you run into difficulty stocking up on your prescriptions at the pharmacy, consider refilling your medications with a mail-order service, the CDC says. You can also ask your physician to switch your prescription from a 30-day supply to a 90-day supply to make sure you have enough medication to get through a potential COVID-19 outbreak in your community.


PR & Wire Services <![CDATA[New Sleep Method Strengthens Brain’s Ability to Retain Memories]]> 2020-05-21T15:55:16Z 2020-05-21T15:55:16Z

Photo: Researchers at Tel Aviv University are discovering that the scent of roses introduced while sleeping may improve memory function.

A new joint study by Tel Aviv University (TAU) and Weizmann Institute of Science researchers has yielded an innovative method for bolstering memory processes in the brain during sleep.

The method relies on a memory-evoking scent administered to one nostril. It helps researchers understand how sleep aids memory, and in the future could possibly help to restore memory capabilities following brain injuries, or help treat people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for whom memory often serves as a trigger.

The new study was led by Ella Bar, a Ph.D. student at TAU and the Weizmann Institute of Science. Other principal investigators include Prof. Yuval Nir of TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and Sagol School of Neuroscience, as well as Profs. Yadin Dudai, Noam Sobel and Rony Paz, all of Weizmann’s Department of Neurobiology. It was published in Current Biology on March 5.

“We know that a memory consolidation process takes place in the brain during sleep,” Bar explains. “For long-term memory storage, information gradually transitions from the hippocampus – a brain region that serves as a temporary buffer for new memories – to the neocortex. But how this transition happens remains an unsolved mystery.”

“By triggering consolidation processes in only one side of the brain during sleep, we were able to compare the activity between the hemispheres and isolate the specific activity that corresponds to memory reactivation,” Prof. Nir adds.

Bar says, “Beyond promoting basic scientific understanding, we hope that in the future this method may also have clinical applications. For instance, post-traumatic patients show higher activity in the right hemisphere when recalling a trauma, possibly related to its emotional content.

“The technique we developed could potentially influence this aspect of the memory during sleep and decrease the emotional stress that accompanies recall of the traumatic memory. Additionally, this method could be further developed to assist in rehabilitation therapy after one-sided brain damage due to stroke.”

The researchers began from the knowledge that memories associated with locations on the left side of a person are mostly stored in the right brain hemisphere and vice versa. While exposed to the scent of a rose, research participants were asked to remember the location of words presented on either the left or right side of a computer screen. Participants were then tested on their memory of the word locations, then proceeded to nap at the lab. As the participants were napping, the scent of roses was administered again, but this time to only one nostril.

With this “one-sided” odor delivery, the researchers were able to reactivate and boost specific memories that were stored in a specific brain hemisphere.

The team also recorded electrical brain activity during sleep with EEG. The results showed that the “one-sided” rose scent delivery led to different sleep waves in the two hemispheres. The hemisphere that received the scent revealed better electrical signatures of memory consolidation during sleep. Finally, in the most crucial test of all, subjects were asked after waking up to undergo a second memory test about the words they had been exposed to before falling asleep.

“The memory of the subjects was significantly better for words presented on the side affected by smell than the memory for words presented on the other side,” Bar says.

“Our findings emphasize that the memory consolidation process can be amplified by external cues such as scents,” she concludes. “By using the special organization of the olfactory pathways, memories can be manipulated in a local manner on one side of the brain. Our finding demonstrates that memory consolidation likely involves a nocturnal ‘dialogue’ between the hippocampus and specific regions in the cerebral cortex.”


PR & Wire Services <![CDATA[Anti-Semitic incidents in Arizona decline in 2019 but increase nationally]]> 2020-05-20T18:35:18Z 2020-05-20T18:35:18Z

Keisha McKinnor

In 2019, Arizona experienced a decrease of anti-Semitic activity for the first time in several years according to new data from ADL (the Anti-Defamation League).

The 2019 ADL Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents recorded 20 anti-Semitic incidents statewide in Arizona, a 41% decrease over the previous year and the largest decrease in the region for the past several years. “Although Arizona experienced a decrease in anti-Semitic incidents we cannot let up on this fight against hate,” says Keisha McKinnor, assistant regional director, ADL Arizona Region. “We must remain vigilant at all times. One incident is one too many.”

Incident Breakdown

The ADL Audit includes both criminal and non-criminal acts of harassment and intimidation, including distribution of hate propaganda, threats and slurs. The Audit classifies incidents into three categories: harassment, vandalism and assault. Of the total incidents reported in Arizona in 2019:

  • Harassment: There were 11 harassment incidents, a 55% decrease over the previous year. ADL defines harassment as cases in which one or more Jews reported feeling harassed or threatened by anti-Semitic language or acts.
  • Vandalism: There were 8 vandalism incidents, a 66% decrease over the previous year. Swastikas, which are generally interpreted as symbols of anti-Semitic hatred, were present in a majority of these incidents. ADL defines vandalism as cases in which property was damaged in a manner that harmed or intimidated Jews.
  • Assault: There was 1 assault incident, an increase from 0 in 2018. Nationally, ADL tabulated 61 anti-Semitic assaults in 2019, a 56% increase from the previous year and the most ever recorded. ADL defines assaults as cases in which individuals were physically targeted with violence accompanied by evidence of anti-Semitic animus.

Of the 20 anti-Semitic incidents across the state, the majority took place in Maricopa County.

National Incidents

In 2019, ADL counted a total of 2,107 anti-Semitic incidents across the U.S., a 12% increase from the 1,879 incidents recorded in 2018. There were incidents reported in every state except Alaska and Hawaii. The audit found there were, on average, as many as six anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. for each day in the calendar year – the highest level of anti-Semitic activity ever recorded by ADL.

The year included five fatalities directly linked to anti-Semitic violence and another 91 individuals targeted in physical assaults. More than half of the assaults nationwide took place in the five boroughs of New York City, including 25 in Brooklyn alone.

The full national audit can be found at

How ADL is Responding

ADL pursues a comprehensive approach to addressing anti-Semitic incidents and behavior. ADL is the largest anti-bias educator in the United States, annually teaching hundreds of thousands of youth and adults to challenge anti-Semitism and other forms of bias in themselves and others. ADL is the largest non-governmental trainer of law enforcement in the nation, helping over 15,000 law enforcement officers each year better understand hate crimes and extremism. ADL is a tireless champion of civil rights for all, advocating at the federal, state and local levels for better prevention and response to anti-Semitism and all forms of hate.

In the Arizona region, ADL works diligently to combat anti-Semitism and other forms of bias through investigation, advocacy and education. That work continued as anti-Semitism surged in the region in 2019, including:

  • ADL Arizona trained over 1,200 law enforcement professionals and 15 law enforcement agencies on hate crimes/extremist activities and managing implicit bias.
  • ADL impacted over 50,000 students in Arizona through its No Place for Hate and A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE Institute bias and bullying prevention programs in 2019.
  • ADL Arizona supported victims of anti-Semitism and other forms of bias, built diverse coalitions and worked with dozens of schools, campuses, workplaces and other institutions and community organizations throughout the year.

ADL’s Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents

Compiled using information provided by victims, law enforcement and community leaders, and evaluated by ADL’s professional staff, the ADL Audit provides a regular snapshot of one specific aspect of a nationwide problem while identifying possible trends or changes in the types of activity reported. This information assists ADL in developing and enhancing its programs to counter and prevent the spread of anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry.

The Audit offers one method to examine how American Jews encounter anti-Semitism, but a full understanding of anti-Semitism in the U.S. requires other forms of analysis as well, including but not limited to public opinion polling, assessments of online anti-Semitism and examinations of extremist activity, all of which ADL offers in other reports, such as ADL Global 100Quantifying Hate: A Year of Anti-Semitism on TwitterOnline Hate and Harassment: The American ExperienceMurder and Extremism in the United States in 2019, and the ADL Survey of American Attitudes Toward Jews. For a broader examination of anti-Semitism, read ADL’s new resource, Anti-Semitism Uncovered.

The Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents is a project of ADL’s Center on Extremism, whose work is supported in part by the following generous donors as well as numerous others: Roman Abramovich, the David Berg Foundation, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Joyce and Irving Goldman Family Foundation, The Marlene Nathan Meyerson Family Foundation, New England Revolution Foundation, Rowland & Sylvia Schaefer Family Foundation, Inc., Charles and Mildred Schnurmacher Foundation, The Nancy K. Silverman Foundation, Louis Sobelman, Zegar Family Foundation and The ADL Lewy Family Institute for Combating Anti-Semitism.


Mala Blomquist <![CDATA[Graham Hoffman: Ready to lead the Jewish community of Tucson]]> 2020-05-20T18:16:44Z 2020-05-20T18:16:44Z

In the middle of May, Graham Hoffman will become president and CEO of both the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona and the Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona. Graham has held the position at the Foundation since 2018 and will be taking over at the Federation for Stuart Mellan, who has been president and CEO since 1995.

While there are other communities where the Federation and Foundation have come together as one, Tucson is a unique situation. “We did not make a decision to merge, and we are not approaching this as a merger,” explains Graham. “We’re approaching it as two organizations with one CEO at the moment, and over time, we will work with the boards of both organizations to figure out the best path forward. It represents a unique opportunity, in my view, for us to leverage the strengths of both organizations with common leadership.”

Graham and Stuart spent more than 10 months engaged in the community planning process evaluating data, including that from a survey where roughly 1,800 people responded. Through that data, decisions can be made about what’s in the best interest of the community for the long term.

“It became clear that the success of the Federation and the success of the Foundation should be measured by the success of the agencies and of the Jewish community that they

support and facilitate,” says Graham. “Aligning the work of these two organizations, creating greater synergy between them and identifying opportunities for them to be coordinated and collaborate in the work that they did made much more sense.”

Ironically, Graham had never intended to go into Jewish communal work, but his background, both personally and professionally, makes him an ideal candidate for this particular position.

He was working as a consultant at Accenture, a multinational professional services company, when he was recruited to do work for Hillel International in Washington, DC. “I took a leave of absence from Accenture for a year and started doing internal consulting for Hillel, traveling around the country helping with their accreditation process,” says Graham.

From there, he moved on to facilitate Hillel’s first global strategic planning process, implementing a strategic plan and some key initiatives. He then transitioned into a senior strategy role for the next 10 years.

During that time, he also helped develop a successful engagement program. They would identify the influencers in social networks on college campuses, hire them to be engagement interns, and then their job was to build relationships with 50 of their uninvolved peers and to connect those students to Jewish life.

Through this process, they were able to reach an incredible number of previously uninvolved Jewish students.

Many of these engagement interns, who themselves were previously uninvolved Jewish students, went on to become leaders both on campus and in the Jewish community around the world. “It became a transformative model for Hillel, and it has shaped the way that many in the Jewish world now understand engagement work.”

After Hillel, Graham went to AIPAC for five years, where he worked in development and oversaw its major gifts fundraising work, major philanthropic foundation and endowments. “From there, I was recruited to run the Foundation here in Tucson,” says Graham.

Coming to Tucson reminded Graham of his roots in the Midwest, where people are friendly, caring and grounded. “The volunteers, the families, the individuals are just remarkable,” states Graham of his new city. “It’s a deeply committed community of folks who understand that if you want to have outstanding Jewish life, then you have to stand up and be a part of it.”

Graham’s parents divorced when he was less than a year old, and he spent time between the homes of his mother and stepfather in Milwaukee, WI, and his father and stepmother in Chicago, IL.

His mother and stepfather kept a conservative home and Graham went to synagogue, community day school and was very involved in Jewish life. When his parent’s lost a dear friend to cancer, they delved deeper into their religion. Eventually, they became a part of the ultra-Orthodox community under Rabbi Michel Twerski, of Hasidic rabbinic dynasty descent.

On the other side, Graham’s father had remarried a non-Jewish woman and they had a “secular Jewish home,” and when he went to visit for the weekends, it would be “restaurants and movies on Saturday.”

Growing up between these two households gave Graham an appreciation for pluralism, but it also created a need to individuate himself.

“Just after my bar mitzvah, I needed to figure out what kind of Jewish life and observances were going to work for me,” he says. “What elements of my Jewishness were going to stay consistent regardless of where I was.”

In Graham’s current position, he wants to help people facilitate ownership of their Jewish journey, but he also wants people to know that there is a difference between engagement and stewardship.

“Engagement is helping them with their Jewish journey and helping them chart their course; stewardship is cultivating relationships with people to facilitate their increased investment in Jewish life,” explains Graham. “So we can only be honest brokers in engagement if we’re willing to honestly and carefully separate that from stewardship and fundraising, which in my view is totally doable.”

Stuart has been an innovator among Federation leaders for his understanding of the importance of community engagement, and he was instrumental in the creation of The Weintraub Israel Center, which provides educational experiences, advocacy and outreach.

Graham wants to continue this vital work. “We want to facilitate an ownership of Jewish experience for every Jewish individual and every family – to define, prioritize and determine the kind of Jewish experiences that are meaningful for them,” he says. “We want to provide them with lots of great offerings, exposure and opportunities and to lower the barriers for involvement so that they don’t ever feel they’re ‘not Jewish enough’ to participate.”

While the situation with COVID-19 may not have made this the ideal transition time, Graham remains optimistic. “This time brings with it challenges that we have not faced before,” he says. “I certainly would not have wanted it to be the way that things began, but the truth is that there are a lot of things I think that will come out of this that will help us.”

For more information on the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona, visit; for the Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona, visit

Amy Hirshberg Lederman <![CDATA[The Ten Commandments of Caregiving]]> 2020-05-19T16:31:55Z 2020-05-19T16:31:55Z

The job description might read something like this: “Looking for someone 24/7 with the patience of a saint, the wisdom of the Dali Lama, the goodness of Mother Teresa, and the ability to find the humor in the most difficult of situations. Must be fluent in the language of love.”

How many of us will find ourselves taking on the arduous role of caretaker for a loved one, family member or friend in our lifetimes? How many of us can lay claim to even a few of the qualifications that are necessary to do so?

My own experience involved caring for my husband, who, at the age of 61, was diagnosed with cancer. I never really thought of myself as a caregiver during the 3 years, 7 months and 11 days of his illness. I saw myself as his wife; devoted to caring for him as part of a loving marriage and lifetime commitment. But statistically, I fell into the category of the more than 60 million unpaid caregivers who, according to the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, are actively engaged in caring for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend, often without training or support.

Caregivers typically help with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, meal preparations, household tasks and managing finances, but the real work comes in what can’t be measured by cooked meals or loads of wash. Because at the heart and soul of caregiving is the deeply human undertaking of understanding, honoring and dignifying another person at what is often their most vulnerable time of life.

Caregiving is as unique as the individual for whom one is caring. In the simplest of terms, this means that one size fits…one.  A caregiver may often need to be a fierce advocate, a diligent gatekeeper, the one who has to initiate the most difficult conversations about things never discussed before in a family. Caregiving challenges us to learn about medications, wheelchairs, medical tests and scans, bodily functions and often, the details of death and dying. In short, it’s a crash course in life, love, and often, a loss for which most of us are never prepared.

But caregiving can be a deeply rewarding experience because it requires us to draw upon our deepest, most compassionate and often most loving selves. Regardless of religious affiliation or lack thereof, taking care of another person who has lost the capacity to care for themselves has the potential to be a truly holy, spiritual experience.

I am not an expert in the field, nor do I pretend to be. But during the years I cared for my husband, I found that these strategies kept both of us going strong.

A positive attitude is often the most important ingredient in the recipe of caregiving.

Communication is key: For both the caregiver and the patient, it is essential to cultivate respectful ways of communicating needs, feelings, concerns and frustrations.

Use available tools and resources. Online help, family, friends and neighbors, list serves to share information like Caring Bridge and support groups can help reduce the daily demands.

Be open to change and let go of the outcome. A caregiver who is able to be flexible and adaptive will often reduce the stress of the situation.

Don’t spend unnecessary time or waste hours going down the internet “rabbit hole” looking for answers. Ask experts, doctors and medical staff for guidance.

Be open to health care alternatives such as acupuncture, massage, hypnosis, CBD and other holistic remedies.

Plan something simple to look forward to every day. A new recipe, a television show, or a walk around the park can bring joy to a day.

Take care of the caregiver. Make time to engage in self-care every week. Ask a friend to cover while you take a walk, go to a movie, or do something that feels like it’s “just for you!”

Focus on the good things, no matter how small. Express gratitude whenever possible.

Remember this beautiful quote by Vivian Greene: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass … it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.”

Caregiving is so much more than managing daily activities, household tasks and health care. It is a chance to deeply appreciate and value life while offering dignity, love and acceptance to another human being.

Amy Hirshberg Lederman has written more than 300 columns and essays that have been published nationwide,

Guest Writer <![CDATA[A thank you to our community from Gail Baer of JFCS]]> 2020-05-18T18:15:07Z 2020-05-18T18:13:46Z

By Gail Baer

The recent COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the way we live and interact. Although we have been asked to social distance, our perseverance has helped us find new ways to connect with those we love and cherish.

As vice president of philanthropic services for Jewish Family & Children’s Service, I have the rare privilege of working with individuals and families who transform others’ lives.

Like many of my colleagues in the nonprofit sector, I was concerned that the recent pandemic and uncertainty for our future would affect the generous behaviors and spirit of people in our community. I could not have been more wrong.

Our community’s collective heart is extraordinary. You showed up and stepped up—motivated, inspired, and compelled to help. Volunteers are delivering goods, making masks and donating blood. Donors are digging deep in their pockets to offer financial support so that others can meet their basic needs. The outpouring of commitment and support from the community has been and continues to be remarkable.

We, like other nonprofits in the Valley, are currently experiencing an urgent and rapid demand for services. Donors believe in our mission and understand their personal impact on thousands of individuals and families in our community. For that, I say thank you. Without your support, things would look a lot different. You are the backbone of all we do, and you are our partners for providing hope and healing every single day.

Our community’s collective heart has taught me that people yearn for purpose. And when asked, people deliver. Philanthropic giving at any level yields numerous personal benefits, especially a true sense of meaning. Giving is a vehicle that enables us all to perform a critically constructive task in the midst of a tragic situation. JFCS, like many other charitable organizations, established an emergency fund for individuals and organizations to financially support the Valley community in need.

Volunteers are the lifeline of many nonprofits. COVID-19 social distancing restrictions leave nonprofits with more people to serve and not enough volunteers to assist. Many organizations are offering safe, socially distant volunteer opportunities. If you have a passion area, see if the nonprofit of your choice needs volunteers. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Support any of the Valley’s local food banks by donating non-perishable food, cleaning supplies, and personal care items. Be sure to check websites for drop off instructions.
  • Purchase school supplies for students in need. Students require essential school supplies for current homeschooling and appropriate school clothing and supplies for when they resume onsite instruction.
  • Provide art activity kits for youth at home, allowing young people of all ages to engage in art stimulation.
  • Sending a card is an important way to connect with anyone, particularly with homebound older adults. This generation values handwritten notes and letters. Personal and handwritten notes are particularly meaningful.

Our spirit has been tested, but through this crisis I have witnessed first-hand the best of humanity. People helping people. Nonprofits supporting each other’s programs and religious communities coming together to serve the community-at-large. All have gone above and beyond to heal and transform countless lives.

The need is still great, your support is still needed. But our collective heart beats strong. Together, we will get through this.

Gail Baer is vice president of philanthropic services at Jewish Family and Children’s Service (JFCS).  JFCS strengthens the community by providing behavioral health, healthcare and social services to all ages, faiths and backgrounds. JFCS’ Emergency Assistance Fund provides immediate support to the community. For more information, visit





Guest Writer <![CDATA[Desert Willow Assisted Living at Sagewood Transforms Assisted Living]]> 2020-05-14T22:52:35Z 2020-05-14T22:52:35Z

Photo: The desert-inspired second-floor lounge and at Desert Willow.

From modern apartment living design to life-enriching amenities including an on-site rehabilitation and fitness center, restaurant-style dining and chef-prepared meals delivered to your front door, a beautiful and well-stocked library, nondenominational chapel, full-service beauty salon and barber shop, large community living room with fireplace and piano, and medical care from the adjacent Five-Star rated Acacia Health Center, Desert Willow Assisted Living at Sagewood raises the standard for quality assisted living in Phoenix.

Offering an exclusive 44 contemporary designed one- and two-bedroom apartment home neighborhood, Desert Willow has been designed with a distinctive Southwestern architecture, specifically appointed with residential-centered, elegant interiors for individuals to feel at home in a comfortable setting.

Large windows for residents to enjoy natural light highlight the contemporary floorplans featuring a private bedroom with walk-in closet, luxurious bathroom featuring a large roll-in shower, open-plan kitchen equipped with a refrigerator and microwave, living room, and stylish finishes with a color palette reflecting the majesty of the surrounding Sonoran Desert.

Desert Willow provides exceptional personalized care from licensed, compassionate team members in a distinct residential setting. A high staff-to-resident ratio ensures residents receive assistance with daily tasks as needed while maintaining a level of independence and social, cultural and recreational activities geared toward residents enjoying what appeals most to them. Rehabilitation and whole-person wellness services are customized to meet an individual’s needs and improve physical strength and independence following a serious medical procedure.

Selecting the right assisted living community is about security, a nurturing environment, quality of life and lifestyle. In addition to meeting social, cultural and recreational requirements, the community you choose should be financially sound and have a continuum of care in place to meet future health and lifestyle needs like the exceptional hospitality that Desert Willow provides.

A pledge to deliver a vast array of services and benefits in a luxurious home-style environment with an uncommon level of flexibility is the philosophy that sets apart Desert Willow Assisted Living at Sagewood. With a focus on personal choice, Desert Willow is the most innovative assisted living community available in Phoenix and has a staff available 24/7 to help with safety, care and support.

Sometimes, all we need to lead a more fulfilling life is an occasional helping hand. Moving to an assisted living community is an important decision and presents an opportunity for comfort and enrichment in one’s life. Desert Willow welcomes non-residents of the Sagewood senior living community interested in direct admission. Visit and call Nancy Jameson at 480-384-5825 to discuss your future home in the Desert Willow Assisted Living at Sagewood community.




Mala Blomquist <![CDATA[Downsizing? This dynamic duo can help]]> 2020-05-14T22:37:31Z 2020-05-14T22:18:00Z

Photo: A “jewel box” home features upscale detailing and custom finishes.

Karen Supman and James Mednik, Realtors with Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty, are good at helping people confronted with the challenges of downsizing, probably because both of them have been through the process themselves.

When Karen’s partner died in 2012, she was left with a 4,000 square foot home filled with treasured keepsakes, including 450 pieces of museum-quality Japanese art. “I asked my kids, ‘What do you want – the fine bone china, Baccarat crystal, oriental rugs, a couch?’ They said that they wanted my vintage handbags, and that was it!” jokes Karen. “We spend a lifetime collecting things that our kids don’t want.”

“We hold onto stuff because it’s sentimental, or you think you’re going to do something with it someday,” says James. “You get to that point where it might be the final move, and everything can’t go with you.”

That’s where Karen and James come in with ideas and resources, whether it’s putting items on consignment, donating them, holding an estate sale, or putting things in storage.

Karen has been a Realtor in Arizona since 2003, and she became a member of the National Association of Senior Move Managers in 2014. NASMM is recognized for its innovative programs and expertise related to senior move management, transition and relocation issues affecting older adults.

James is new to real estate, becoming a Realtor after relocating to Arizona two years ago. He moved here from St. Louis, MO, where he owned several successful businesses in the textile recycling industry. James also mentors other small business owners.

James says that when they meet a client they always ask, “If you could wave a magic wand, what would you wish for?” And the client inevitably always wishes for the process to be done.

Along with the help of Debbie Meyer of Moving You Simply, LLC, they can make their wish come true. Together, they can offer services to completely coordinate and manage the entire move, from packing boxes to staging the home for sale. “Our goal is to take the stress away from them as much as possible, and net them as much money as possible,” says Karen.

Karen and James have also noticed that individuals who are downsizing are looking for the same type of home as millennials. They both want to “live large” on a small footprint without a lot of square footage or a big yard to upkeep.

Karen refers to these ‘lock and leave” homes as “jewel boxes.” What a jewel box home lacks in size it makes up for in luxury with custom finishes and upscale detailing.

“They want an open floor plan, and they want something bright and sunny that’s close to things,” says Karen. “And that sense of community where they have people they could meet and go to the movies or restaurants with.”

A lot of seniors have concerns that they will outlive their money. “They want to be able to cut

some expenses and be in a beautiful home – and they can cut expenses by going to a smaller home. But they’re not going to sacrifice luxury and amenities,” says James.

They both agree that it’s all about the client and what their goals are, and from there, they form a team and navigate the process.

“We really get into it, and we’re making a difference in someone’s life, and that excites us,” says Karen.

The pair has several testimonials from clients on what a difference they’ve made. One woman lost her husband, who made all the financial decisions. James took the time to make a detailed spreadsheet for her so that she could better understand her financial situation and be assured that she was making the right decision. She sold her home here (after receiving three offers) and is currently building her dream home in Virginia.

James’ patience and understanding could be credited to growing up in a Jewish home with older relatives. His father was 44 when he was born, but James’ aunts and uncles were much older, and he watched them go through the difficult process of parting with their belongings. A lot of those items were connected to their Judaism.

“You get a sense of how they think and what is important to them,” says James. “And whether they’re Jewish or Catholic, when they’re religious, it’s about having empathy and an understanding for the value they place on things.”

“You know what I love about being Jewish?” asks Karen after she shares that she converted not once, but twice – first to Reform and then to Conservative. “The sense of tradition, the sense of family. That coincides with how I take care of my clients – they become my family.”

If you have question about downsizing, or are looking for a Realtor, contact Karen at 602-999-6738 or James at 480-925-2440.



Tamara Kopper <![CDATA[Summertime Sippers]]> 2020-05-06T18:06:10Z 2020-05-06T18:06:10Z