Jewish seniors residence preparing to open in Marin

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San Francisco has the Jewish Home. The East Bay has the Reutlinger Community for Jewish Living.

Marin County has nothing of the kind. But in a short time, it will.

The mezuzah has been ceremonially hung, and now, Bubbie & Zadie’s House — — is preparing to open, making it the first kosher residence for Jewish seniors in Marin County. But it just needs one thing to be complete: a few bubbes and zaydes.

The official opening date is Sunday, March 12.

The idea for such a residence began over two years ago, with Manny Kopstein, a marketing executive who lives in Tiburon, growing increasingly concerned about his mother.

She lived in Southern California, and at age 91, was suffering from what’s known as mild cognitive impairment. She would get confused and wander off, and soon the in-home care she required was costing upward of $8,000 a month.

He began doing research. He found no kosher facility in Southern California that would suit her. Then he looked in Northern California, and found the same. (While he did not want to disparage either of the two facilities here, nor Rhoda Goldman Plaza, he felt that distance and other details made them not quite right for his mother).

So the idea to build a place, in nearby Terra Linda, was born.

They found a house in what Kopstein described as a “warm neighborhood with other assisted living facilities,” bought it, and worked for nine months, renovating it to their liking. The cost of the house and renovations was well over $1 million, Kopstein said.

In the meantime, Kopstein’s mother’s health continued to decline. His brother was in the position to move in with her and become her caregiver, so now that the residence is ready to open, she is staying in Southern California.

“But we thank her for the concept,” Kopstein said.

Bubbie & Zadie’s House is a smaller facility that will only house six seniors.

Kopstein’s wife Cary Kopstein will serve as the administrator, and the Kopsteins’ partner, Marvin Ishai, will be the program director. They have experienced caregivers who will live on site, and the facility’s kitchen will be kosher.

With only six residents, Kopstein said they will be able to offer very individualized care, with meals whenever the residents want them, for example.

“We will have a living situation that brings them back into a social, loving, caregiving atmosphere,” said Kopstein. Residents will not only be driven to their doctor’s appointments but attendants will wait with them.

As Terra Linda has several residences for elderly already, Kopstein said it would be the perfect place for Jewish seniors to be as well. And six months after opening, Kopstein said, they will begin working on a second one. They plan to build several, which will have different levels of care, allowing residents to be living with others who have the same amount of mobility.

Kopstein said interest was great, with many people requesting information.

“The need is acute and the supply is obviously not there,” he said, adding that at a recent presentation he did at Jewish Family and Children’s Services in Marin, he was asked, “Where have you been all our lives?”

In addition to aikido and other offerings at the residence, Kopstein said that the residents will be taught to use the Internet, if they do not know how already, and each will have their own email address.

The fact that the facility will be so small will be to its advantage, Kopstein said, as residents will receive individualized attention.

“The real goal is about enhancing and preserving dignity of seniors by giving them control over decision-making in their daily lives,” said Kopstein. “This preserves their autonomy, which clinically has shown to enhance their longevity and quality of their lives.”

He added, “Bubbie & Zayde’s House is warm and fuzzy. We named it so for the memory and in honor of Yiddish tradition.”

Alix Wall
Alix Wall

Alix Wall is a contributing editor to J. She is also the founder of the Illuminoshi: The Not-So-Secret Society of Bay Area Jewish Food Professionals and is writer/producer of a documentary-in-progress called "The Lonely Child."