Thirteen years ago in the year 2000, when the Senior Citizens League of Flatbush asked permission to rent space at East Midwood Jewish Center for an extensive senior program, there was much opposition to the idea. How times have changed!
Dr. Honigman thought having a senior citizen center was not only a good source of income for EMJC, but an ethical obligation – a mitzvah. He argued that with so much space going unused during the week, it was our duty to provide elderly people, many of whom have lost their spouses and former friends, with a place to socialize with others their own age, discuss current events, play cards, learn new things and eat a well balanced meal every day.
By its presence the Senior Center provides another mitzvah–young adults who are mentally challenged arrive here daily to assemble the packages of cutlery, napkins, salt, pepper, and sugar in plastic bags for the meals. The meals are so large (consisting of soup, meat or fish, rice, potatoes or kasha , vegetable or salad, bread, juice and fruit) that many take home half the food for their dinner. On Fridays there is a special Shabbat package for just 50 cents. For daily meals seniors make a contribution of $1.25. All meals follow dietary requirements, but containers of milk are given out for taking home to assist with protein and bones needs.
Now 13 years later, it is clear that Dr. Honigman’s judgment was right. The senior center, which is now here 5 days a week, is a vital service, much appreciated by the 120 people who attend daily. Among the regular activities are English as a second language for the many Russian members, Zumba, yoga, ballroom dancing to the sounds of beautiful Broadway show tunes which bring back happy memories and line dancing to more modern rhythms. Also, there are bridge lessons and games, classes in Hebrew, jewelry making, movies and trips to special places like the Botanic Garden, the High Line and elsewhere. Members can get help with senior benefits and personal problems.
The senior center is ably directed by Lenore Friedman, Executive Director and Robin Hughes, Site Director. The Senior League of Flatbush, Midwood Branch, has proven to be a good friend of East Midwood and the residents of thearea,andwearevery glad to share our large,wonderful building with them. Ms. Friedman says, “It is a perfect marriage between two wonderful caring organizations.”