LChaim center celebrates 10 years of serving S.F. emigre community

A center of thriving Russian Jewish life entered a new decade this month when the L’Chaim Adult Day Health Center celebrated its 10th anniversary on July 17.

The celebration, held at Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco and attended by around 200 people, included a luncheon and an awards ceremony.

The majority of the guests were L’Chaim clients — elderly Jewish émigrés, most from the Russian-speaking community — who enjoyed entertainment provided by the center’s staff members. L’Chaim is a program of the S.F.-based Jewish Family and Children’s Services.

“The staff of the L’Chaim Center worked very hard to provide entertainment to the guests,” said Robert Nagler Miller of JFCS. “They had wonderful music and dancing that they [the staff] created themselves.”

L’Chaim Program Director Anna Borovik (left) and Jewish Family and Children’s Services Associate Executive Director Gayle Zahler at the luncheon.

Tatiana Kuklina enjoys L’Chaim’s 10th anniversary luncheon July 17. photos/courtesy of jfcs

Over the past 10 years, L’Chaim staff and volunteers have helped approximately 300 elderly Russian émigrés prepare for naturalization. In addition, some 1,000 people have learned English at L’Chaim either in on-site classes or conversation groups or during home visits.

The center also provides medical care and makes referrals, in addition to offering dietetic counseling, support groups, arts and crafts, rehab services, meals, recreational activities and lectures.

Most of the services provided are free due to funding from government programs, JFCS and private contributors.

Located in the Sunset District of San Francisco, L’Chaim center provides free transportation to and from the center to all clients, enabling them to participate in the programs of their choice. Most of the staff are bilingual, able to speak both Russian and English.

“The clients appreciate the staff, and the staff really appreciate the clients,” Miller said. “You can see the reciprocation.”