Memphis Jewish Seniors: Seeing the Big Picture

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If you’d like a copy of our new Senior Services brochure mailed to you or a loved one, or would like to be enrolled in the monthly Memphis Jewish Seniors e-newsletter, send an email with your physical and/or email address to Matt Timberlake:

By Gila Golder

Seniors. Special Needs Families. Midtown/Downtown Jewish residents.

These four important segments of our Memphis Jewish community, according to JCP’s 2014 Community Needs Assessment, are among several groups whose needs were not being fully met by a Jewish community organization.

Choosing seniors as the first area to tackle, JCP convened the Senior Services Collaborative (SSC) and brought together agency representatives and community members who would address senior needs from a more global perspective, sharing resources and generating strategies to improve ease of access to senior services.

“The Senior Services Collaborative (SSC) is one of the gems of our community,” said Bluma Zuckerbrot-Finkelstein, staff coordinator of the SSC. “It is comprised of individuals who are passionate about and committed to the well-being of Memphis Jewish seniors. And, the Collaborative knows how to get things done. It is a privilege to be part of a group making a real difference and impact in our community.”

The SSC’s first task was to create a more efficient process for seniors to find out what was going on in the community.  “We needed one central number or information point that would help seniors connect with the services they needed,” said Ms. Zuckerbrot-Finkelstein. With representatives from each organization sitting around a table together it was easy enough to talk about what each organization does. The next step was to bring that information together into a single digest of community-wide senior services.

The SSC was able to address this issue by designing, printing, and distributing a Senior Services Directory, a large-print, glossy quad-fold brochure with a comprehensive listing of senior services provided by the Memphis Jewish community, broken down into categories such as Vital Needs, Companionship, Transportation, and Wellness. This information is also available in digital form at  The costs were covered by a grant from Jewish Foundation fund holders Patti and Bill Weiss. 

The printed brochure and website were finalized this spring, with brochures mailed directly to seniors’ homes. Extra copies of the brochure are also available at the JCP office, our congregations, and local agencies serving Jewish seniors, as well as at independent and assisted living facilities, geriatric medical offices, and hospitals.

“The senior directory and website has been very helpful to me as a resource to provide both to seniors and to their caregivers,” noted Janet Rubin, Intake, Referral, and Volunteer Coordinator for Jewish Family Service at the MJCC. “A lot of people come in to ask about navigating the process of moving their loved ones to Memphis, and they want to know what services will be available once they make that transition. I give them the directory, which makes it easy for them to follow up as needed with the appropriate service providers.”

Building on its first success, the SSC also applied for a “Fedovation” grant from Memphis Jewish Federation to hire a Roving Jewish Activities Coordinator who would provide Jewish content and engagement opportunities to Memphis Jewish seniors currently isolated from Jewish engagement. MJF approved the grant, and the role will soon be filled.

“When we first began talking about forming the Senior Services Collaborative a year and a half ago, I never would have imagined how much we’ve accomplished in such a short time!” enthused Joel Ashner, Director of Community Relations for Memphis Jewish Home & Rehab and chair of the SSC.

Here’s to more good work to come.

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