Readers Choice 2014: Seniors

Jewish Retirement Residence

The Bay Area is blessed with modern retirement residences that create new Jewish neighborhoods for seniors, offering comfortable accommodations, an array of social activities and Judaica classes, freedom from home maintenance and opportunities to share celebrations. Readers praise the following Jewish residences, which provide varying levels of care.

“Sometimes people decide they’re tired of being in charge of cooking and cleaning and home management,” says Susan Koster, executive director of San Francisco’s Rhoda Goldman Plaza, which offers assisted-living apartments, memory care, kosher meals, health services, transportation and 24-hour support staff. The good news: “Once they open the door, the building is their living room and their dining room. They can sit with people from different parts of the world, or people they’ve known 60 years, or find people they haven’t seen for 50 years. People find each other here.”

In Danville, the Reutlinger Community for Jewish Living offers a variety of living options, including independent living, skilled nursing memory care and the Tikvah Center, which offers an additional level of care to people in assisted living. Reutlinger has a full-time rabbi, a synagogue, daily kosher meals, an award-winning art program, a choir, musical programs, and a guest-chef series. “It isn’t just the services like food and nursing and activities,” says resident Rabbi Debora Kohn. “We are a community and we have built a spiritual community for elders.”

Because Moldaw Residences shares a campus with the Oshman Family JCC, residents enjoy the fitness and swimming facilities, senior programs and excursions, cultural offerings and the opportunity to interact with kids in the preschool and early childhood programs. “Sometimes the preschoolers will bake bread and bring it over,” says Manny Cherkas, who also takes full advantage of the fitness center and hikes with other residents. The Baylands hiking trails are just a short walk away. “It’s a great place for active people to be,” he adds. The Moldaw offers independent and assisted living and memory care, and skilled nursing is available through its affiliation with the Jewish Senior Living Group.

With two facilities in San Rafael, L’Chaim House has been a Readers’ Choice favorite for several years, offering managed assisted living and dementia care in private-home settings, each with six residents. The facilities “provide a high level of personal care, with a ratio of one caregiver to every two or three residents,” says owner Manny Kopstein. The homes, which have kosher kitchens, offer Sabbath and holiday services and meals, are welcoming to family members. Activities include morning fitness classes, neighborhood walks, arts and crafts, movies and other entertainment, and outings to museums and senior centers, including Shabbat lunches at Osher Marin JCC.

San Francisco

Rhoda Goldman Plaza

(415) 345-5060 •


East Bay

Reutlinger Community for Jewish Living


(925) 648-2800


South Bay/Peninsula

Moldaw Residences

Palo Alto

(650) 433-3600


North Bay

L’Chaim House

San Rafael

(415) 435-1395


Retirement Residence/Other

In addition to the Jewish facilities, readers have high praise for these community residences, which offer stimulating activities, attractive facilities and a continuum of care.

 San Francisco Towers, an Episcopal Senior Communities residence offering continuing care, is ideally located near the city’s many cultural offerings, including the San Francisco Opera and Davies Symphony Hall. Wellness programs include aqua classes, tai chi, yoga, walking groups and lectures. The facility offers a variety of dining possibilities from casual to more formal. In fact, San Francisco Chronicle food critic Michael Bauer described an “elegant dining room that looks kind of like a replica of a luxury cruise ship.”

St. Paul’s Towers, a senior living community in Oakland, is located in the hub of the historic Lakeshore district, a block from Lake Merritt. Active residents can walk around the lake, enjoy summer band concerts, visit the gardens and wildlife center, take kids to Children’s Fairyland or rent a boat. A member of the Episcopal Senior Communities family, St. Paul’s Towers offers enriching programs, maintenance-free living, extensive amenities and services to make residents feel at home.

Vi in Palo Alto, across the street from the Stanford Shopping Center and near the Stanford campus, is a deluxe continuing care retirement community, offering independent and assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing, including short- and long-term rehabilitative care. The complex includes exercise and pool facilities, a salon and spa, a putting green and walking paths. In addition to lectures, classes and cultural programs, Vi provides transportation to area theaters, synagogues, shopping and activities on the Stanford campus.

San Francisco

San Francisco Towers

(415) 776-0500


East Bay

St. Paul’s Towers


(510) 835-4700


South Bay/Peninsula

Vi Living

Palo Alto

(877) 776-3972


In-Home Care

Readers cite both Jewish Family and Children’s Services, based in San Francisco, and Jewish Family & Children’s Services of the East Bay for offering exceptional services not only for seniors who wish to remain at home, but for family members who care for aging parents and relatives.

The JFCS’ Seniors At Home program serves the entire region under the rubric of the S.F.-based agency and was also the in-home care favorite for the Peninsula/South Bay and the North Bay. The agency, which provides a free assessment by a geriatric specialist, has been offering in-home care for 25 years, ranging from help several hours a day to around the clock. Clients can receive help with personal care, such as assistance with bathing and grooming, and homemaker-companion services, including light housekeeping, cooking, shopping and transportation. Seniors At Home is the caregivers’ employee, taking care of payroll taxes and other paperwork. “We feel privileged to be of service to many older members of our community who wish to remain in their own homes, and we feel passionate about helping them, as well as their families, manage the challenges of staying healthy as they age,” says Traci Dobronravova, Seniors At Home associate director.

JFCS/East Bay Home Care for Seniors, launched in 2013 in collaboration with 24Hr HomeCare, provides “training for caregivers around Jewish cultural issues,” says Holly Taines White, JFCS/East Bay director of grants and communications. For clients who keep kosher, caregivers receive information about kosher dietary guidelines and how to implement them. In addition, JFCS/East Bay provides a number of services to older adults and their families, including care management, Holocaust survivor services and geriatric social workers, who provide “an extra level of oversight and advocacy,” she adds. Serving Alameda and Contra Costa County, the agency provides light housekeeping and laundry help, cooking and meal planning, personal care and companionship.

Bay Area

JFCS Seniors At Home

Various locations

(415) 449-3777


East Bay

JFCS/East Bay Home Care for Seniors

Alameda County • (510) 684-6009

Contra Costa County • (925) 949-6151


Alzheimer’s Care

Confronting memory loss and cognitive impairment is a challenge not only for patients but for family members who need to make difficult decisions. Whether the answer is a residence or in-home care, our readers say they turn to these organizations.

Rhoda Goldman Plaza in San Francisco, which also offers assisted living and other levels of care, has a dedicated memory unit, the Terrace. In the secure unit, with 24-hour nursing staff, each resident has a private apartment, sharing such activities as arts and crafts, music and dance, and religious and holiday celebrations. Discussion groups, therapy, outings and social activities help keep minds and bodies active. The entire facility provides kosher meals.

Traditions, the memory unit at Danville’s Reutlinger Community for Jewish Living, offers private and semi-private accommodations in a secure unit with 24-hour nursing staff. Designed for ambulatory residents in the early or middle stages of progressive memory loss, Traditions provides activities seven days a week, including therapeutic, art and cultural programs, religious observances and holiday celebrations, as well as kosher meals.

24Hr Home Care, which serves clients throughout California, is the readers’ choice for the South Bay/Peninsula, with offices in Palo Alto, San Mateo and Santa Clara. In 2013, Forbes magazine ranked it 27th among 100 of America’s most promising companies. Caregivers receive ongoing training in caring for clients with Alzheimer’s and dementia, including a series of classes on understanding the diseases, caregiver-patient communication skills, and techniques of compassionate communication and furthering social connections. All are focused on improving the quality of life. 24Hr has no minimum hourly requirement of service per day. It also donates part of its proceeds to charity, including the charity of the client’s choice.

San Francisco

Rhoda Goldman Plaza

(415) 345-5060


East Bay

Reutlinger Community for Jewish Living


(925) 648-2800


South Bay/Peninsula

24Hr Home Care

Various locations

(800) 522-1516


Readers’ Choice 2014: Time to roll out the red carpet

Readers’ Choice 2014: Synagogue Life

Readers’ Choice 2014: Community

Readers’ Choice 2014: Culture

Readers’ Choice 2014: Have a Nosh

Readers’ Choice 2014: Time to Celebrate

Readers’ Choice 2014: Shop Till You Drop

Readers’ Choice 2014: Health, Beauty & Fitness

Readers’ Choice 2014: Business & Professional

Readers’ Choice 2014: House & Home