Buenos Aires gets first downtown home for Jewish aged

buenos aires | Elderly Argentine Jews have a new place they can call home: the LeDor VaDor, a $10 million state-of-the-art home in Buenos Aires.

LeDor VaDor is the first home for Jewish elderly in the capital that has the community’s central institutions involved in its direction.

The home, which opened its doors March 27, can house 292 residents and accommodate hundreds more for daily activities. Unlike existing Jewish homes for the elderly on the outskirts of the city that leave residents far from loved ones., the new home is located near neighborhoods with large Jewish populations.

The building, a 150,000-square foot rebuilt factory, is a concrete structure with high ceilings. Patios were designed to provide natural light and open spaces for leisure. The cost per resident is $1,500 to $2,000 per month, but at least 190 residents will have their fees heavily subsidized.

The home adds much-needed alternative to the area’s dwindling stockpile of Jewish homes in the area around Buenos Aires. The Hirsch Israeli Philanthropic Association is highly regarded but expensive. The once-vigorous Argentine Jewish Home for Elderly in Burzaco, nearly a century old, is foundering under economic and structural problems. Inside the city, the Sephardic Beit Sion Douer can hold only 90 residents and is filled to capacity.

That has left many elderly Jews to live in non-Jewish homes that do not provide a Jewish environment. Research two years ago by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee showed that 75 percent of the residents in 10 non-Jewish private elderly homes in Buenos Aires were Jewish.

The JDC survey also found that some 45,000 Jews in Buenos Aires and its surroundings are older than 60. Local Jewish institutions have developed a network of 40 daily recreation centers for elders, but they aren’t equipped to care for those with disabilities.

Three years ago, local Jews, American Jews and Jewish institutions in Argentina and the United States came together to plan a new home for seniors.

According to JDC sources, the project was funded by local Jews and institutions, the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation in Baltimore, the Greater Houston Jewish Federation, the JDC, and the David and Inez Myers Foundation of the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland.

The home was modeled on state-of-the-art elder facilities in the United States and Israel. Perkins-Eastman, a U.S. architectural firm, offered free advice and supervision for the project.

At the opening ceremony, 11 members from the Houston federation, along with Howard Schultz, president of the Latin American JDC Committee, and Mark Weiner, president and CEO of the Council for Jewish Elderly and a consultant to Perkins-Eastman, joined local Jews. National and municipal officials, Israeli Ambassador Rafael Eldad and rabbis from several movements also participated.

Representatives from Argentina’s Social Development Ministry announced a subsidy of $450,000 to buy equipment for the new home.

“This shouldn’t be just a beautiful mall where we deposit the elderly,” said Alejandro Avruj, one of the rabbis at the opening ceremony.

“There is a lot of work to be done in order to feel that the elders living here will also be our zaydes.”