A place in the sun: Menorah Park to dedicate new courtyard garden

Surveying the sun-drenched courtyard at Menorah Park, longtime resident Nita Juelich smiles and simply says, “Incredible.”

The newly relandscaped courtyard might not seem like much in this hustle-bustle world, but for the 189 residents at the San Francisco senior housing facility, it’s a big deal.

It’s so big, Menorah Park will hold a June 27 public dedication ceremony for the courtyard, officially named the Lawrence Meyers Garden (for a founding supporter of the facility).

Previously, the 5,000-square-foot space was little more than a grassy slope and concrete slab, with a few seats scattered about. Now, blue all-weather benches dot a swirling inlaid pathway, punctuated with matching umbrellas, a redwood trellis and manicured gardens. There’s even a globe-shaped stone fountain adding a brookside ambience in the heart of the city.

It’s perfect for outdoor parties, and the trellis can even double as a sukkah.

“As people age, they need more stimulus,” says Nurit Robinson, executive director of Menorah Park. “This bolsters our mission of providing a comfortable, stimulating place to age.”

To fund the nearly $200,000 project, Robinson turned to the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation and Jewish Community Endowment Fund.

“The response from the federation was immediate,” Robinson says. “They just eased the way. [Outgoing endowment executive director] Phyllis Cook and [endowment director of grants] Mark Reisbaum made it happen.”

The 80-something Juelich, a native of South Africa, has lived at Menorah Park for 21 years. She, like most residents, rarely used the old courtyard area.

“The residents come now,” she says. “They chat, they visit. Some just come out and read. It’s so much more inviting.”

Built in 1978, Menorah Park provides federally subsidized affordable housing for low-income elderly. A majority of its residents are Russian-speaking Jews, but the population includes many ethnic groups.

The courtyard is the latest facelift for Menorah Park. Over the last five years, the facility has undergone

$2 million-worth of improvements, including stripping the exterior and installing attractive new wood siding.

But putting in the new courtyard garden seems to have the residents cheering even more.

“Residents are really happy,” says Robinson. “For me to see something I had in my mind’s eye actually constructed in front of my eyes is very powerful.”

There are still a few final touches to come. One corner of the courtyard will eventually feature waist-high planters for residents to grow their own flowers or vegetables. “It’ll be a mini-urban farm,” says Robinson.

Asked if residents can graze any cattle on it, she adds with a smile, “Only if they’re mini-cows.”

The Lawrence Myer Garden dedication ceremony takes place 2 p.m. June 27, at Menorah Park, 3365 Sacramento, S.F. For more information, call (415) 929-7912.

Dan Pine

Dan Pine is a contributing editor at J. He was a longtime staff writer at J. and retired as news editor in 2020.