Home for Jewish Parents breaks ground at new site

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"This is an emotional day for a lot of people."

The morning's atmosphere was one of celebration and congratulations with many people sporting yellow plastic hardhats. Before the ceremony, attendees kibitzed, noshed and viewed displays of an architectural model, plans and drawings of the building and samples of floor and wall coverings.

Construction of the home is expected to be a 16-month project. In addition to providing staff and facilities for five different levels of care, the home will include a synagogue, kosher kitchen, private dining rooms, a cafe, library, lounge, arts-and-crafts room and more. The new home will offer apartments for independent elders as well as complete nursing care.

According to Sussman, the home is the largest project ever undertaken by the East Bay Jewish community and the campaign has exceeded all expectations.

Phil Harris recalled volunteering to spearhead fund-raising at a board meeting 3-1/2 years ago. The board set an ambitious and seemingly unattainable goal of $5.5 million from the community, and Harris and Erwin Ferer began soliciting donations.

"We now have a total commitment of almost $10 million," said Harris, indicating a posterboard bearing the names of 600 contributors. "And we will continue the drive."

Speakers offered praise for the Jewish community, the Jewish Federation of the Greater East Bay, the home's board of directors and volunteers.

"Blessed are those with vision to lead a community in the right direction," said Rabbi Roberto Graetz of Lafayette's Temple Isaiah in his blessing. "Blessed are those who dig deep into their soul and substance to make it happen. Ground-breaking means not only digging deep but having high dreams."

In the midst of the parched, barren six-acre site, Graetz had special words for Sussman, chair of the board:

"How far along this desert Warren has brought us."

Also present was U. S. Rep. Ellen Tauscher, a Democrat from Pleasanton.

"I spoke with the architect, Bob Swatt," said Tauscher. "He hopes he can build and complete the home in time for him to move in."

Tauscher, who lives two miles from the site, talked about watching Camino Tassajara being re-routed and wondering how the newly created space would be used. She lauded the Home for Jewish Parents' role in helping seniors maintain their independence while also providing assistance for those in need.

She reiterated a legislative commitment to making health care affordable, without compromising the quality of medical services or their accessibility. Tauscher also promised that local caseworkers would visit the Home for Jewish Parents regularly to meet with residents.

"Building a new home is like a roller-coaster ride," said Judy Greif, chair of the building and construction committee. She talked about some of the glitches encountered, including the fact that the site for the Home for Jewish Parents is located half in Danville and half in an unincorporated area of Contra Costa County, which means dealing with two jurisdictions. But in spite of that, the planning process is moving ahead.

"This home will give our Jewish parents the respect, recognition and dignity they deserve," said Greif.