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Year: 2020

Chef Jon Wirtis

Written by: CSP-Admin

The Love of Food

The love of food… This, in a nutshell is what makes Chef Jon Wirtis, the Executive Chef and Director of Culinary Services at Cedar Sinai Park (CSP), excited to come to work every day.

For Chef Jon, creating beautiful and delicious food is an act of love. It’s a way of bringing people together on so many different levels. He believes that food provides nourishment not just for the body, but for the soul and mind as well.

When he arrived at CSP in April 2019, Chef Jon joined a culinary family with deep ties to the residents there. Most kitchen staff had been with CSP for at least 5 years; some for more than 20. Chef Jon wanted to build on this foundation. “We ‘live’ here at work just as much as we live at home. We’ve built respect amongst each other, and for me, this isn’t a one-time deal; it’s something that I earn every day. I got their back no matter what.”

We ‘live’ here at work just as must as we live at home. We’ve built respect amongst each other, and for me, this isn’t a one-time deal, it’s something that I earn every day. I got their back no matter what.’

CSP’s culinary team manages two kitchens on campus: a kosher kitchen at Rose Schnitzer Manor and a second kitchen at the Robison Health and Rehabilitation Center that serves residents at the Center and at the Harold Schnitzer Center for Living.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed some aspects of food service dramatically. Before, gourmet meals were served in dining rooms and the Cohen café. In warmer months, residents could dine al fresco on the patio and enjoy a glass of wine with friends at a weekly happy hour in Marcy’s Bar. The kitchen prepared community feasts to mark holidays and occasional barbeques during the summer.

0Drinks are ordered from Marcy’s Bar each week.

At the Harold Schnitzer Center for Living, residents could dine together in family-style settings in their respective household centers. Patients receiving rehab at the Robison Center have in-room dining with therapeutic and modified diet options.

Since mid-March, for the health and safety of residents, community dining came to a screeching halt. Quickly adjusting, Chef Jon and his culinary team began delivering fresh, hot food to the rooms of some 150 residents. According to Chef Jon, the monumental shift required a cohesive, all-hands-on-deck approach with the residents’ needs front and center. “We found the secret sauce to making things work,” he said.

0Servings of kugel are eaten each month.

Today, residents select from personalized menu options in advance for the coming week. Accommodations are made for those who take medicine with food or need a “to-go meal” when a doctor’s appointment conflicts with meal times. The team has learned who needs help opening their food containers and which residents are visually impaired and need help knowing where food items are on the plate.

With a sound system rigged to their cart on wheels playing Big Band favorites, the delivery team carts meals and music to residents on different wings and households. “The residents love the music,” Chef Jon said.

Did you know…?

Chef Jon Wirtis holds the Guinness World Record for making the largest matzo ball. Weighing in at 486 pounds, the massive “kneydlekh” was cooked in 1,200 gallons of chicken stock and required a crane to be lifted onto a scale!


And most importantly, the team takes time to talk with the residents, to hear about family and friends they’re missing, or to be a shoulder on which to lean when it’s needed. According to staff, conversations have deepened relationships with residents over the past nine months, a silver lining to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To keep his team motivated and up-to-date on COVID-19 developments, Chef Jon schedules meetings once a month. “I want to make sure we have full transparency and the culinary staff feels included. They’re an important part of our team and larger CSP family.” Chef Jon and his team also solicit feedback and suggestions about food service by distributing surveys periodically to residents.

0Smoothies are made each month.
0Pounds of ice cream sundaes are served each year.

Chef Jon reports that, when authorities deem it safe to re-introduce family-style meals, everything is in place and approved to have meals in the dining room again. “We’ve put safety precautions – like plexiglass screens – in place for the protection and health of our residents. We’ve really tried to make the dining room feel like home, even adding colorful new placemats to bring extra warmth, thanks to a wonderful suggestion by a resident.”

“We’re all ready to go! We can’t wait for the residents to be able to eat together again. We just need the county to give us the green light!”

0Pounds of potatoes are served each month.

Olive Eng

Written by: CSP-Admin

21 Years at RSM and Still Going Strong

It was a long way and a long life from San Antonio, Texas, to a newly opened assisted living complex in Portland, Oregon. Olive Eng moved into Rose Schnitzer Manor in July 1998, about six months after it opened, and has lived here longer than anyone else. She can’t imagine living anywhere else.

Her life, now comfortable and free, began in chaos and fear. The daughter of Chinese immigrants who lived in San Antonio, she was only two when her father was killed by criminals associated with the local Chinese Benevolent Association, or tong.

Her mother, who had been transported from a rural Chinese village to the unfamiliar culture and climate of Texas, lived in continual fear of the tong. The Benevolent Association provided aid and services to its Chinese members, but its organized crime faction traumatized her mother with threats involving property she owned. Young Olive once saw her mother intimidated by a man waving a gun.

Olive’s four siblings, not much older than she, tried to take care of one another. Her two older brothers finally succeeded in having her mother, who was increasingly fearful and paranoid, committed to a mental institution, where she lived out her life.

When Olive was 14, she went to live with her sister and her husband in Sacramento, California, where the couple owned a Chinese takeout restaurant. “It was the first time I had enough to eat,” Olive recalls. “It was so good, chow mein and barbecue pork…” Her mother’s insistence that she eat all of her rice, dry and unseasoned, before she could partake of any other dishes meant the child had often left the table hungry.

She graduated high school in Sacramento, then attended junior college, taking prerequisites to attend a university. When her brother-in-law went to UC Berkeley to study, she moved with him and her sister to Richmond, and she went to Berkeley herself for a semester.

After her mother died, she returned to San Antonio and took more college classes. Then she went to live with her sister Annabel in Los Angeles, where she and a girlfriend got jobs at UCLA. With her savings and some family money, she could afford the tuition of $30 a semester.

She worked toward a bachelor’s in elementary education while living in a co-op. She met her first husband at college. Her marriage ended but it resulted in “the best thing that ever happened to me,” her daughter, Caryl Kwan, now Hoffman. Caryl has two children of her own, Spencer, 28, and Kayla, 25.

I can’t imagine being elsewhere… I feel right at home.’

While in LA, Olive briefly taught third grade in an inner-city school before deciding to become a school librarian instead. Her degree in elementary education helped her obtain a school library credential. Olive doesn’t recall any favorite authors from her years as a junior high and high school librarian; she tried to choose books “that fit the curriculum.”

After she retired at age 55, and worked at selling real estate. She didn’t make much money, but learned a lot about her own potential. “You had to promote yourself,” she remembers. “It gave me a lot of self-confidence.”
Then one day in 1998, Olive Eng was standing at her bathroom sink, brushing her teeth, when her left arm went numb. Although she tried to ignore the sensation, the numbness spread, and eventually she lost her balance and fell to the floor.

She lay there for a long time. Although she could push herself along with her right arm, she didn’t try to call for help. She was sure the numbness would pass. Her mind was hazy, but she noticed the light in the bathroom fade into darkness. Then another day passed, and another.

By the third day, her body was stiff and sore from lying on the floor, so she somehow managed to get to the bathtub and draw a warm bath.

She hefted herself into the tub, causing a great deal of water to splash onto the floor. As she relaxed into the blessedly warm water, a knock came at the door. The downstairs neighbor had noticed water seeping through the floor into his apartment. Olive didn’t answer. She figured he wouldn’t hear her from inside the bathroom and besides, he was probably angry that she had flooded his bathroom.

The neighbor went away, but he came back with the apartment manager and two EMTs, one of whom noticed that the left side of her face was sagging and suggested gently that she may have had a stroke. They lifted her from the bath and took her to the hospital, where the diagnosis was confirmed.

A short time later, unable to return to her old life, she moved into an apartment at Rose Schnitzer Manor, a newly built assisted living facility, that her daughter and son-in-law had found for her.

That was 21 years ago, when Olive Eng was 65.

Even after all this time, she says “I can’t imagine being elsewhere. … I feel right at home.”

Now 86, she enjoys classes in yoga and writing and tai chi. Years of physical therapy have helped her regain the use of her left hand. She appreciated help with bathing and dressing and eventually had a hip replacement.

One skill Olive Eng has honed in her years at Rose Schnitzer Manor is Ebru, a type of painting that begins by “marbleizing” paper by dipping it in water marked with swirls of acrylic paint. Once that background is dry, she paints over the patterns she created with new images, adding color, depth and perspective.

Ever since she came to Rose Schnitzer Manor, she’s had her hair done by Peggy Henry in the on-site salon. Although not a resident, Peggy’s been a fixture at Rose Schnitzer Manor even longer than Olive, arriving three months earlier, in April 1998.

The food, her artwork, creativity, friends, choir, tai chi and a fearsome reputation as the person to beat at Scrabble. Olive Eng is building on 21 years of Rose Schnitzer living—and loving it.

Fran Gardner is a retired journalist and a resident of Rose Schnitzer Manor.

Cathy Zheutlin – Part II

Written by: CSP-Admin

This time around we’re taking a look at Cathy Zheutlin’s life before she became the Spiritual Life Coordinator at Cedar Sinai Park. We’re going to hear about her life experiences and how these shaped who she is today.

If you missed Part 1 of this story, be sure to check it out here!

–Gloria Hammer

‘I have always had an interest in making the world a more just place.’
-Cathy Zheutlin

You grew up in Southern California in West Los Angeles; tell us about your family.

I am one of five children. My dad is a radiologist and my mother a nurse but she did not formally work for very long. Once married, she raised five kids and that was her job. I was fortunate to attend grade school and high school in progressive schools, and I got a lot of attention from both teachers and classmates. I went to the University of California at Santa Cruz but dropped out to make movies.

Give us an overview of your early film career.

The Women’s Movement was just beginning to have momentum. I joined a collective of women to make films by and for women. We created a series called “After Sorrow Comes Joy;” these were films about women’s lives. I had access to UC Santa Cruz and public television. We learned how to use the equipment; it was a lot of teaching ourselves. It was empowering. Our programs were about women in the workplace, women and sexuality, women and healthcare, etc.

You moved to Los Angeles…

I went back to LA because I grew up there. My father had invested in someone’s movie and was able to ask for a favor and the favor was to put his daughter on as a production assistant. My job was called a runner. I was asked to go get this and get that. I used my time to hang out with the camera department – that was what I was interested in. The camera department is the first to arrive and last to leave. I learned camera assisting. I then moved to the Bay Area, where I was part of a group of women friends who created a company that produced the very first film festival of films made by women. We also went into producing films ourselves.

Can you tell us what you focused on?

This is in the late 70s. We made a film called In the Best Interest of the Children; it was about lesbian women losing custody of their children based on injustice and prejudice. It was an award-winning film. I worked on several documentaries as a camera assistant or a camerawoman.

In your film career have you worked on any mainstream films?

I worked as a camera operator on the TV show “Murphy Brown.” But, even there I started to push for women’s rights in the camera department. I worked on the award-winning Rosie the Riveter, where I started as a camera assistant and worked my way up to camera operator. This film had mainstream acknowledgement.

Would you call yourself an activist?

I have always had an interest in making the world a more just place. I have had the freedom to be my own editor and work on films that mattered to me: on one hand I have had a smaller audience because my interests were more progressive than the mainstream, On the other hand, I maintained integrity.

As an activist, do you agree that these are the same issues people are still working on?

We have been working on the same issues all our lives and we will continue and our children will continue.

I know recently you produced the award-winning Living While Dying. That was a five-year endeavor, but what earlier film projects do you want to discuss?

There were so many. I was the cameraperson on a film about people who transformed abandoned neighborhoods by squatting in empty houses in Philadelphia. If I hadn’t made that film I never would have met those people.

You mentioned a film, Just One Step. I think you said it was around 1986. Is that when you had transitioned from camera operator?

I made the transition from cameraperson to a director and producer on Just One Step. It was learning by doing or saying yes to things without knowing how challenging and difficult they will turn out to be. I would get in too deep to turn back. I would go forward and just make mistakes and keep going. That seems to be the story of my life.

Just One Step: The Great Peace March took two years. It was nine months of filming. This was a walk with 500 people from LA to Washington D.C. I filmed for nine months, and it took another nine months to raise money and edit the film. While I was editing, a peace march was being organized in the USSR. It was the first Soviet and American peace march. This was when Gorbachev was in power and that kind of thing could happen. Somebody wanted that peace march filmed. I got financing to go and I wanted to go because Russia was the country of my ancestors.

Is this where you met Edis Jurcys, your husband?

Yes, it was a complicated project. Two directors, one Russian and myself – and I did not speak Russian. My future husband was one of the three camera operators on the project. The project included 200 Americans and 200 Soviets. There were eight of us on the film crew.

Most of the American crew were vegetarians and we ate together. Edis, a Lithuanian, also ate with us; it was unusual for a Soviet citizen to be a vegetarian. We spoke the language of film. Edis spoke a little English. I was able to keep the romance going because I went back to the Soviet Union to edit, and back again to show my American film.

You have been married 30 years. Tell us about your family.

We married in Moscow almost two years from when we met. Edis, a talented still photographer, was Roman Catholic, I am Jewish. I wanted to raise my daughter Jewish and I had a conversation with Edis and explained that this was important to me. He said fine. Edis had a daughter, Rasa, who is now a mother of four and a company controller in San Francisco. At age 10, Rasa came to the United States with him. Nine months later, Edis and I had a baby. Teresa is now a kindergarten teacher in San Diego.

Where did you live when you first came to the United States?

We were living in a one bedroom in Santa Monica. We couldn’t afford LA and didn’t like the culture, so we moved to Portland. Twenty-two years ago I joined P’nai Or. I could walk there; they were meeting at a church in my neighborhood.

I became a film teacher but realized I wanted a job that could integrate motherhood and my work. I parted from filmmaking at that time and became a massage therapist. The path of massage took me in the direction of intuitive healing as well as hands-on body mechanics.

What is intuitive healing?

Energy healing stimulates the energy flow in or around a human body to restore balance on all levels, thereby enabling the body to heal itself. It clears blocks and interference from the biofield. People have natural healing. I facilitate that.

You had a Bat Mitzvah at 50? Who had her Bat Mitzvah first, you or your daughter?

When it was time for my daughter to go to Sunday school, she was super shy so I attended with her. I attended a Reform synagogue as a child but as an adult at P’nai Or my understanding of the spiritual foundation of Judaism developed. The rabbi at the time was Aryeh Hirschfield and he offered a class in adult Bat Mitzvah. I signed up.

The rabbi would explain: you’re not coming of age when you have an adult Bat Mitzvah, you are becoming a leader in the congregation, a Jewish leader. That was 20 years ago. Chronologically, I went first. This was before Teresa became 13.

You were serving on the Board of the Congregation at P’nai Or.

Yes, I served on many committees. There was a board meeting I came late to only to find they elected me president in my absence. I said yes before realizing how difficult it would be. Kind of like the Jewish story when Jews got the Torah and we said yes and then we said “tell us how to do what we just said yes to.” My life has been like that … I have served on every committee and still serve.

We should talk about your recent film, Living While Dying. You have been quoted in your film saying, “The art of living well and dying well are one.”

People for the most part are afraid to discuss death. My mother’s partner, Clair, 92 years old, was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Clair allowed me to capture what it meant to live each of his final days with heightened awareness. Clair said,” My cancer was a gift.”

What are your thoughts on what you set out to accomplish in this film?

Dying has something to offer the living: the wisdom that comes from the clear, conclusive awareness of what really matters. In exploring the death of several people around the world the documentary focuses on how people choose to live while dying. The process heightens the awareness of what it means to live each day with purpose and joy. My invitation to the audience is to explore a journey of not knowing and being humbled by mystery. Beginning in 2012, this film took me five years to complete.

Congratulations for being chosen in 2018 as an official selection at the Portland Film Festival as well as the Third Action Film Festival. I would think the experiences gained by making your film Living While Dying gave you a wide range of insights for your decision to apply to the job as spiritual life coordinator.

I looked at the application for quite a long time. I didn’t know if I qualified. As a filmmaker, I worked on radio and video projects about inter-spirituality for 10 years with Rabbi Rami Shapiro. I hoped I could take my skills as a producer of films and coordinate Jewish life for this organization. I was very honest in my application letter. They interviewed me and said okay.

If you live into your 80s you will probably face end of life issues. Being an elder means you are in your last chapter. I think my film about facing mortality has been useful preparation for my job and probably influenced my decision to apply.

Gloria Hammer, is an Oregonian and the mother of Jordana and Margot. Their Grandmother, Sadie Feves was dedicated to the Robison Home and Rose Schnitzer. Gloria’s grandchildren, Sadie and Henry, are the light of her life. As an educator, Gloria especially enjoys writing and teaching pilates. She loves spending winters in Palm Springs attending the film festival with her husband Jeff. Producing the film, The Three Rabbis was one of her biggest projects.

Cathy Zheutlin: Work Driven by Love

Written by: CSP-Admin

On a sunny summer day, I got a glimpse into Cathy Zheutlin’s life as we sat outside on my deck (six feet apart) and talked for about an hour. The beeping of Cathy’s alarm paused the conversation and she was off to save the day for Cedar Sinai Park (CSP) residents! She quickly changed a television program that residents at Cedar Sinai Park would not have had access to.

I immediately witnessed Cathy’s devotion to serving the residents at CSP. It brings me joy to share her passion with you.

I’m delighted to introduce you to Cathy Zheutlin: a dedicated filmmaker, massage therapist, wife, mother, and activist, who takes it all on with a deep commitment. She has been the Spiritual Life Coordinator at Cedar Sinai Park for a year now.

Like all her endeavors, Cathy took on the job with passion and creativity, making sure all the residents have a chance to live their best life.

In this two-part interview, we’ll begin by hearing about Cathy’s amazing work at Cedar Sinai Park. Then, we’ll take a look back at Cathy’s life and some of her proudest moments.

It’s with deep respect I’m pleased to share our conversation with you! Enjoy!

Cathy Zheutlin

‘Making sure all residents live their best life.’
-Cathy Zheutlin

Cathy, it’s such a pleasure to chat with you! I’d love to hear a little more about your role as the Spiritual Life Coordinator at Cedar Sinai Park.

Well, so much has changed since I first started at CSP. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we would gather together every week for Shabbat: the residents and guests of Rose Schnitzer Manor in Zidell Hall, and the residents of the CSP households and acute care in Cogan Chapel. I would visit the households every Shabbat at dinner to share blessings and prayers with residents who gathered at a “family” dinner table.

I remember the day the pandemic actually started affecting us on a day-to-day basis. It was a Sunday in early March, and I learned we were no longer allowing visitors into CSP. It was all very sudden and unexpected.

At the time, we were moving forward with Passover plans, writing invitations to family members, educating the staff, coordinating banquet meals, services and the Passover kitchen and housecleaning.

Suddenly we hit the brakes. We had to assess our new situation. No guests, no gatherings.

We had no idea how long the restrictions would last. So, we quickly began to adapt our Passover plans…

I was blessed to find a national group of chaplains who were discussing how to handle Passover during COVID-19. We brainstormed, collaborated and supported one another.

Thankfully, I also had the help of some amazing volunteers like Amy Shapiro, who has been leading Passover Seders and High Holiday services for 20 years. Amy along with her husband, Jeff Olenick, Barbara Slater and Eddy Shuldman (just to name a few!), really stepped up during this time of need. They all understood that we needed to quickly transition our in-person events to online. I was truly lucky to have the support of this wonderful group of people.

I was also grateful to Open Signals (the public access part of Comcast) who agreed to broadcast our Passover Seder program. That began a wonderful relationship and opportunity to continue to provide programming for the households that has extended throughout this whole quarantine.

And, together, we made it happen! We ordered decorated plastic Seder plates with haroset, egg, parsley, and saltwater, and arranged for a Haggadah and a vase with a flower for every room. All were delivered to our residents in time for the pre-recorded televised services led by familiar faces.

Wow! It truly takes a village! It sounds like you have really had to adapt and make programs “virtual” for residents. Can you tell me more about the variety of programming you provide?

Yes! We have continued to provide wonderful programming for our residents in Rose Schnitzer Manor and the Robison Center for Health and Healing, mainly through our internal TV channels. For example, our generous volunteers provide recordings of themselves leading Shabbat services. These are aired every Friday.

I was able to show Rabbi Joshua Stampfer’s videotaped classes. And we have rabbinic teachings on Saturday along with prayer services on Friday nights and Saturday mornings. Eddy Shuldman, Lani Raider and I also made a televised healing service.

It’s also fun to show interesting programs throughout the week! The CSP Life Enrichment staff puts together exercise programs, opera, educational and fun series. We even do a Jewish themed movie night on Tuesdays! We continue to try to think outside the box and incorporate new ideas to keep our residents engaged and entertained.

For example, I’m beginning to film interviews with as many residents as I can, telling stories about their lives. They will be edited by community volunteers. I am really looking forward to seeing the finished products and sharing these stories with the CSP community. I know that nothing can take the place of what we miss: personal contact. But, for our residents, seeing these familiar faces can provide comfort and joy.

We’ve also adapted other events that would normally be held in person, into online events. Such as our Celebration of Life, which we transformed into a virtual event by recording memories and integrating music and photos.

What are you planning for the High Holidays?

Well, throughout the month of Elul, we have distributed meditations and journaling prompts to our residents. We’ve also had community volunteers blow the shofar from different locations outside on campus. They went around all the buildings, so that the residents could hear the shofar from their windows.

To celebrate the Sweet New Year, we will be serving a special dinner with apples, local honey, and homemade honey cake. Also, the Spiritual Life Committee of CSP has been amazing, generous and helpful. Many of its members will be leading services that will be aired for the residents. *

On the first day of Rosh Hashanah, there will be opportunities for residents, one by one or two by two, to come to the Torah in Zidell Hall for some prayer and blessings. I really love doing blessings (I learned from Rabbi Aryeh Hirschfield). It’s one of the treasures I love to do.

For Tashlich, it will again be one by one or two by two. There will be an opportunity to cast stones in our little stream between buildings A and B.

During Sukkot, our residents, either one by one or two by two, can visit the sukkah, help decorate it and shake the lulav and etrog and stay a bit. We hope to have a tea service and sit at a distance.

We will also bring music and celebration through the halls for Simchat Torah.

You are trying to cover all the possibilities to make the best of a difficult time. Is there anything else you’re working on that you’re excited about?

Actually, yes! I’m reconnecting with Rabbi Motti Wilhelm and Maimonides Jewish Day School to set up some Zoom connections between our residents and the kids. We are really working to reimagine ways to keep the B’Yachad program alive with the seventh and eighth grades from the Portland Jewish Academy.

In ordinary times B’Yachad matches elders with youth. They would meet monthly to study Torah and build relationships. We are trying to figure out how to adapt to pandemic conditions.

Through it all, the most important thing I continue to focus on is maintaining relationships with residents. I try my best to be available for both Jews and non-Jews as we navigate the weirdness and isolation of the pandemic, the ups and downs of life. It is hope to be a supportive presence.

My work is driven by love. Even on my day off, I check email because I care about the people and the community and I want to stay connected.

*A list of service leaders that Cathy is blessed to have for the 5781 High Holy Days:

Erev Rosh Hashanah – Amy Shapiro and Jeff Olenick
Rosh Hashanah Day 1 – Elayne and Len Shapiro
Rosh Hashanah Day 2 – Rabbi Barry Cohen
Yom Kippur am – Avrel Nudelman
Yom Kippur pm – Amy Shapiro and Jeff Olenick
Erev Sukkot – Eddy Shuldman
Sukkot morning – Cantor Linda Shivers
Shemini Atzeret – Eddy Shuldman
Erev Simchat Torah – Eddy Shuldman
Simchat Torah – Avrel Nudlelman

Gloria Hammer, is an Oregonian and the mother of Jordana and Margot. Their Grandmother, Sadie Feves was dedicated to the Robison Home and Rose Schnitzer. Gloria’s grandchildren, Sadie and Henry, are the light of her life. As an educator, Gloria especially enjoys writing and teaching pilates. She loves spending winters in Palm Springs attending the film festival with her husband Jeff. Producing the film, The Three Rabbis was one of her biggest projects.

The Shaggy Life at Rose Schnitzer Manor

Written by: CSP-Admin

Former Jazz Disc Jockey

“Give her some love, Chico,” Rose Schnitzer Manor resident Rachel Hasson cajoles the Humpty Dumpty-shaped, poodle-mix, ball of hair waddling down the hall beside her. Chico edges closer to the ankle of a passing neighbor, offering his greying muzzle for a pat. If he’s in the right mood, a bubble-gum pink tongue darts out for a quick lick. Rachel, a retired pediatrician from Los Angeles and an accomplished artist, is one of the growing number of elders arriving at Rose Schnitzer with dogs, cats, perhaps even a rabbit or gerbil — we haven’t asked — in tow.

“Duffy and Baily know when David is unwell,” Harriet Dietz says of her and husband David’s two look-alike but unrelated terrier-beagle blends. The extraordinarily lively doggy duo “jump into our bed buffering David between them when he’s hurting,” she laughs, adding that you can see David’s pain reflected in the dogs’ deep soft eyes. When the Dietz’s — former Bend residents — moved from Portland’s Pearl District to Rose Schnitzer Manor, their “canine kids” were part of the package.

Even though Harriet has strong ties to CSP and Rose Schnitzer — her mother was the artist Sylvia Shlim for whom her father dedicated a manor wing — “Leaving our animals behind would have been a definite deal breaker,” she explains as David revs up his motorized scooter to take his turn at ushering the dogs on their fifth walk of the day. Are Duffy and Baily helping get the couple through our coronavirus confinement? “Don’t ask,” she laughs.

Anyone who has ever owned a pet knows there’s nothing quite like the slightly slurpy feel of a dog’s welcoming lick or the soft vibration of a cat’s thrumming purr as it rubs against your leg. Scientists and pet owners have known for decades that animals can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and increase social interaction and physical activity. Pets provide other intangibles, too. “Dogs and cats live very much in the present,” says Dr. Jay P Granat, a New Jersey-based psychotherapist. “They don’t worry about tomorrow, which can be a very scary concept for an older person. An animal embodies that sense of here and now, and it tends to rub off on people.”

‘If you don’t own a dog, at least one, there is not necessarily anything wrong with you, but there may be something wrong with your life.’ – Roger Caras

A recent AARP-sponsored National Poll on Healthy Aging conducted by the University of Michigan found 55% of older adults ages 60 to 80 say their pets help them enjoy life and feel taken care of. A vast majority of respondents cite their pets for keeping them physically active and able to stick to a routine. Pets can also have an astounding effect on symptoms of depression and feelings of loneliness

Rose Schnitzer Manor’s Elaine Rosenthal couldn’t agree more. Elaine is a people person who likes to remind her friends she “has broad shoulders” and is prepared to sit down and hash out even the most personal of topics. Fellow-residents delight in her daily company. Netty, the caramel-colored poodle mix who arrived with her from Wyoming, is an extravert in her own right albeit a bit shaggy. Netty has evolved into a Rose Schnitzer mascot. More important, this happy pup provides Elaine with loving companionship during these long hours of self-confinement. “I’m never really alone,” she says of the quarantine.

“A while back,” Elaine adjusts her glasses, “I took Netty for a seasonal trim and for some unknown reason the groomer decided to shave most of my dog’s hair off. My friends here at the Manor went absolutely ballistic. ‘Sue the groomer,’ someone advised. Everyone had an opinion. It was amazing to me how people had grown so very attached to my Netty.”

Judy Ross, a wiry woman with fiery red hair and a fierce intelligence, can be found most mornings in Rose Schnitzer’s Goodman Lounge pouring over the print issue of The New York Times. No digital editions for Judy. And don’t bother looking for tweets from this highly articulate former East Coaster. Today, though, something is different. Moxie isn’t with her. “He died,” she slumps a bit in her chair.

Judy has lost her protégé, her life witness, her primary companion and the comfort of a relationship and routines. Grieving a pet is complicated. Judy’s spirit, though, shines through. “My husband and I were both born to parents who disliked pets. As soon as we married, we got our first dog. If you’re lucky,” the long-time pet owner quotes an unknown source, “a dog will come into your life, steal your heart and change everything.” She won’t cry because the relationship is over. She’ll smile because it happened.

‘I have felt cats rubbing their faces against mine and touching my cheek with claws carefully sheathed. These things, to me, are expressions of love.’  – James Herriot

Rose Schnitzer residents Jane Rosenbaum and Gordon Jensen couldn’t agree more with the late British veterinarian. Gordan and Jean had known each other casually eons back in high school. When they met again twelve-or-so years ago it was love at second site. Each came into the new relationship with a cat — his Cece and her Abie — and all four hit it off beautifully. These days when self-confinement and meals alone is wearing thin for most of us, Cece and Abie bring an extra coating of comfort and companionship into their owners’ lives.

A whopping 48% of AARPs poll respondents were cat owners. Marie Godfrey and Shyrlee Goodman are very much a part of that proportion. Both are long-time cat lovers who brought their furry family members with them to Rose Schnitzer. Both women will tell you their feline friends are low maintenance, fiercely independent and value their own alone time.

Marie Godfrey, a former geneticist with a razor-sharp scientist’s intellect, loses all objectivity when she talks about Panther and Cricket. “Cricket, named for DNA scientist Francis Crick, is the alpha cat and Panther the subsidiary at least until bedtime,” she bats playfully at a furry paw. “Then Panther grabs the place of honor on our bed and spreads out so Cricket has very little room. Panther is a little sneaky and though he tries, he’s not allowed to leave the apartment. Cricket, however, thoroughly enjoys padding down the hall for regular visits with my neighbors. Even Rachel’s Chico is on good terms with him.”

Cats have shared portions of Shyrlee Goodman’s life for forty years. She understands and respects the feline gestalt as only a long-time cat lover can. Attempting to define a cat somehow defies words. Ask how her current roommate Chloe is making life more bearable these days and the handsome East Coast native shrugs her shoulders as if to credit the animal with providing profound comfort in its’ own enigmatic cat-like way.


It’s interesting and gratifying to note that every one of the four-legged Rose Schnitzer dwellers was retrieved from an animal shelter or no-kill refuge. Like their owners, all the pets at Rose Schnitzer are seniors. Like their owners, all are navigating the perils of old age with grace and humor and love.

Arlene Layton retired to Rose Schnitzer Manor in 2016. She is a native Oregonian with a passion for writing. Her career included Communications Director for Lloyd Corporation Ltd., Public Information and Communication Manager for the Oregon Historical Society and Development and Marketing Director for the North coast’s non-profit public broadcasting stations operating as Coast Community Radio (KMUN) in Astoria.

Photo Credit: Veritas Collaborations and Marie Godfrey (RSM resident).

George Fendel

Written by: CSP-Admin

Former Jazz Disc Jockey

Before health problems got in the way, George Fendel would sit down at a piano every few months to play the music he loves for the residents of Cedar Sinai Park. An hour of Gershwin. Or Richard Rogers. Or Duke Ellington. George’s fingers on the keyboard, decorating the tunes written by some of his favorite composers.

For ten years or so, until she died in 2006, Fendel’s mother, Gladys Fendel, lived at Rose Schnitzer Manor. Gladys was there whenever George played, proud of the son who shared his passion for jazz standards to the delight of the Cedar Sinai Park community.

Fendel is a former jazz disc jockey whose soothing voice was heard on three different Portland radio stations for 28 years until he retired in 2014. His Cedar Sinai Park shows were filled with easy patter and jazz history, too. He aimed during his radio shows to sound as though he had three or four friends in his living room, just sitting around and talking about music. It was the same with his shows at Cedar Sinai Park. An hour of the Great American Songbook punctuated with memorabilia for his audiences to peruse and discuss.

A stack of Sinatra sheet music. Playbills from a Rogers and Hart musical. Or the framed 1961 letter from Ira Gershwin written to a young Fendel. With it, Ira enclosed a photograph of the Gershwin brothers, and a cancelled check bearing George Gershwin’s signature. These treasures – permanently housed on a wall in Fendel’s Southwest Portland living room — made more than one trip to Cedar Sinai Park throughout the decades Fendel performed there.

Fendel, bespectacled and bald with a ring of white hair just below his crown, relishes the story of how, thanks to his mother, he acquired the Gershwin items. Gladys Fendel wrote to Ira Gershwin explaining how much her son admired George Gershwin, the late Jewish composer. She asked if Ira might send her son some memorabilia for his 19th birthday.

They’ve given so much to the Jewish community -I just want them to know, ‘You’re still a part of us.’

Graciously, Ira Gershwin complied, and included his Beverly Hills return address on the package that arrived at the Fendel’s Northeast Portland home. Fendel was attending the Brandeis Camp Institute in Southern California when the package arrived. He jumped in a car and drove to Ira Gershwin’s home hoping to thank his benefactor in person. Fendel was invited into Gershwin’s foyer and spoke to the lyricist for 15 minutes. Not that he can remember a word of the conversation. He was so excited he promptly forgot it.

Recently, Fendel introduced jazz guitarist Rich Walker, who is new to the Portland area, to an audience at Cedar Sinai Park. Walker played wonderfully for about ten appreciative listeners. Fendel, the producer of an occasional concert series at Classic Piano in Southeast Portland, was pleased to connect a musician with a crowd. The way he sees it, the hours he’s spent making music for Cedar Sinai Park isn’t volunteerism. Whether playing or producing, he’s just a guy doing something he enjoys for people who enjoy listening.

George Fendel, Cedar Sinai Park Volunteer, Piano Player, Jazz Aficionado

Age: 77

Wife: Laura Fendel

Children: Reyna, professional opera and Broadway singer; Mark, professional alto sax player; Aliza Zeff, a folk music devotee

Grandchildren: Jerusalem – Maya, Joe, Asher, and Benjamin Zeff ; Los Angeles –  Nili and Charlotte ZackFavorite pianist: Alan Broadbent

Other favorite pianists: Bill Evans and Oscar Peterson

Nena Baker is an author, journalist, and investigator who grew up in Portland. Her grandmother, Lena Lakefish, and her father, Bob Baker, a jazz musician himself, were residents of the home. Nena appreciates the extraordinary care the home gave to her loved ones at the end of their lives.

Rabbi Barry Cohen

Written by: CSP-Admin

Rabbi Barry Cohen

“Can I grab a chair and swing it around?” said Rabbi Barry Cohen, community chaplain, as he approached a nearly full table in Rose Schnitzer Manor’s Newmark Dining Room. With Rabbi Cohen, there’s always space at the table for one more.  He pulls out the remaining chair and joins the group over veggie omelettes, bagels and lox, fresh fruit, coffee and tea. “How’re things?” he asks. “How’s breakfast?”

Welcome to Breakfast with Rabbi Barry Cohen. Take a seat.

Originally from Memphis and now a Portland transplant from the Chicago suburbs, Rabbi Cohen was ordained a Reform rabbi in 1998, and he engaged in extra training to become a chaplain. He and his family, including 15-year-old fraternal twins, moved to Portland in August 2018.

Prior to summer 2018 the Federation had committed to creating a community chaplain position to fill the myriad of gaps that had become recognized over time, particularly for the unaffiliated. But Rabbi Cohen — officially the community chaplain of the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland — has greatly expanded his original job description.

Marc Blattner, the Federation’s executive director explained, “In partnership with the Oregon Board of Rabbis, the Jewish Federation felt it was important to have a community chaplain to support the needs of non-synagogue members. Rabbi Barry Cohen has extended his efforts to reach out to Jews wherever they are, including Rose Schnitzer Manor, to bring comfort, care, and activities to seniors and others in our community.”

Rabbi Cohen’s own mother is in a Houston-based residence that he says is similar to Rose Schnitzer Manor (RSM). He said he’s aware how connected she remains to the Jewish community there and how important that is to her emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. He wanted to create a similar inroad to keep connections alive for our own at RSM. “They’ve given so much to the Jewish community,” he said of RSM’s Jewish residents. “I just want them to know, ‘You’re still a part of us.’”

They’ve given so much to the Jewish community -I just want them to know, ‘You’re still a part of us.’

So, he, Jemi Kostiner Mansfield, then Cedar Sinai Park’s director of spiritual life, and residents brainstormed how to make good on the rabbi’s desire to schmooze, yes, but also to be available for residents’ spiritual and pastoral needs. In the midst of the process, Kostiner Mansfield left to become Congregation Shaarie Torah’s executive director and Cathy Zheutlin took over where her predecessor and the chaplain left off.

Then it came to Rabbi Cohen: “Why don’t I pick a morning and use that as a way to meet residents?”

Every Tuesday (with some exceptions) the community chaplain with alert eyes, an easy smile, and a quick chuckle arrives at 9 a.m. and enters the Newmark Dining Room (if not stopped in the foyer first by an eager, non-dining resident). For roughly an hour, Rabbi Cohen makes his way from table to table, either opening up a conversation or joining in on one already in progress.

“Whenever I go on a Tuesday morning, I never know what to expect,” he said, noting a resident with whom he’d shared a number of breakfast sessions at last opened up to him about her Holocaust experience. In her 90s, she’d never disclosed the story to her own family.

Kostiner Mansfield, recently reflecting on the development of Breakfast with Rabbi Barry, believed in their parties’ vision. She said, “The residents at RSM never shy away from spirited discussions on a range of subjects.”

“I never know the direction it’ll turn,” Rabbi Cohen said of his interactions.

At a recent Breakfast, the rabbi, black kippah firmly in place, first gave his attention to a full table of diners. He then focused on a resident eating oatmeal with blueberries, solo. He said he prioritizes approaching those on their own. The rabbi asked to take a seat and started chatting up Patsy Ridler about the weather.  But she was in for loftier topics.

“I want to ask you about your course,” she said of a post-Pesach opportunity, noting her interest in learning about the prophets. There’s a lot left to learn other than just Torah,” Ridler said. She added that she looks forward to learning with the rabbi since, for example, three words in English might not reveal the entire concept of a given text in Hebrew. “That’s why going to the original text is so important,” Rabbi Cohen responded.

The rabbi asked after Ridler’s health and they talked politics a bit, too, before he politely excused himself to talk with more residents. He sidled up to the full table where he’d asked to “swing around” a chair.

“What’s new, Rabbi?” asked Dr. Phillip Reiter as the bespectacled chaplain took a seat.

The residents proceeded to talk about the recent death of basketball star Kobe Bryant, their joint disgust with the current administration, the Democratic candidates’ debate, the political stalemate in Israel, even our entire country’s judicial system. Without skipping a beat, the rabbi said to his tablemates, “One of the reasons I like coming here is I know I can have real conversations.”

Lee Berne, making her way through a tomato and spinach omelette, said she always enjoys social time over meals at RSM. “We always have great conversations, including with the rabbi,” she said. Still, the community chaplain said at a later time, “Not every moment needs to be filled with conversation; I just exist in that space.”

Rabbi Cohen said, “My concern is when members of the Jewish community feel like they’re outside looking in or — G-d forbid — abandoned by the community.” His ultimate passion is to ensure the residents believe “we’re still connected,” wherever we may be on our life journey and where we may physically reside.

“We are blessed to have him in a community of Portland’s size and recognize the vital role he plays,” the Federation’s Blattner said.

Jenn Director Knudsen is a freelance journalist and editor in Portland, Oregon, and co-owner of 2B Writing Company. She is the mother of two teen daughters who have joined her on myriad visits over the years to CSP’s facilities, where family members and dear friends have either convalesced or lived for decades, in comfort and with dignity.

Sew to Save donates 900+ handmade masks to CSP!

Written by: CSP-Admin

May 1, 2020

Watch our CEO, Kimberly Fuson, in a Fox 12 Oregon special feature showcasing the amazing generosity of Sew to Save Oregon! They donated nearly 1,000 hand-made cloth masks to our Cedar Sinai Park residents and caregivers! We feel so blessed by our wonderful community. Thank you Sew to Save Oregon for helping to keep our residents and staff safe!

To learn more about Sew to Save, visit Our appreciation goes out to Fox 12 Oregon for creating and sharing this wonderful video!

Eleanore Rubinstein (z”l)

Written by: CSP-Admin

Eleanore Rubinstein

Have you wondered at the secret to healthy living to 100—or even 106 or 107? Spry, diminutive, sparkly blue-eyed Eleanore Rubinstein (z”l) knows. As Cedar Sinai’s oldest resident, she turned 107 on April 23rd! Yet she keeps so busy she has little time to ponder an answer. If you listen closely, though, clues drop forth like pearls on a strand.

“I don’t know why I stay well,” she remarks. “The body certainly isn’t quite what it used to be. I’m not golfing anymore, that’s for sure!” In her spare, neat apartment decorated with five generations of photos, she watches golf on TV though… along with her alternate favorite, baseball. “I love baseball, I played it as much as I could when I was young.” Tennis also. Well past the age of 90, in fact.

And while other centenarians might despair at outliving their spouse, contemporaries and friends, not Eleanore. “There’s nobody left of my era,” she admits, her voice still steady. “They’re no longer here. For the life of me, I don’t understand it. I did nothing to deserve it. I can only say, I’ve had a lot of help.” She points up toward what could only be described as the heavens. “I’m deeply Jewish. I’m not religious, but I’m deeply Jewish. My whole life, almost entirely with no exception has been good: just good things.”

Born in New York in 1913, Eleanore’s family moved to Portland when she was seven and her father landed a job at Meier and Frank. She was an only child. “My father wanted a boy, and my mother wanted a girl. I was pretty much my father’s son! Fortunately for him, I was very physical. That was a little difficult for my mom, she was very dainty. But they never stopped me from doing anything I wanted to do.”

I didn’t think I’d ever be in a place like this, but Rose Schnitzer is home. It’s amazing, absolutely amazing.

That included going to what was then named Irvington School, and graduating from Grant High. Eleanore volunteered for the Red Cross during the Second World War, and her mother feared the work might take her only child overseas. “She was so cute, my mother,” Eleanore says. Just like the biblical Ruth, “She told me, ‘you go overseas, I go overseas.’ We were very close.”

After the American Red Cross, Eleanore devoted her work outside the home to several non-profits: the PTA, Girl Scouts of America, The National Council for Jewish Women and—even past 100-years-old—Store to Door, a non-profit supplying needed goods to homebound older adults, most of whom were appreciably younger than Eleanore.

Today, Eleanore takes life slightly—and only slightly—easier. She no longer “works,” but no one would describe her life as “rest,” either. Bingo, bridge hands, jigsaw puzzles, the latest bestselling fiction, are all in reach or available at Rose Schnitzer. Prior to moving into independent living, she lived with her youngest daughter, Diane. “You have to be sensible,” she insists. “You can love someone a great deal, yet sharing a kitchen’s not always easy! It’s too much, to cook for someone else, and my kids didn’t want me to be alone. I don’t want to cause anyone problems. And at this age, my problems are my kids’ problems.”

“I didn’t think I’d ever be in a place like this,” she admits, “but Rose Schnitzer is home. It’s amazing, absolutely amazing. The staff fall over themselves to be good to me. The food is remarkable—diversified, fresh, warm. I don’t know what I expected, but they wait on me in the dining room, they bring the food to my room, they can’t do enough for me. I’m making new friends, it’s amazing,” she concludes. “I never expected to be so warmly received. After you’re here awhile, if you don’t like Rose Schnitzer, there’s something wrong with you!”

But truly, Eleanore is never alone. “There are amazing people here. Thelma Newsom—we played tennis together a million years ago. Leah Nepom, Bernice Menashe…. I’m so lucky.” And every day family—Eleanore’s children Richard, Caroline, Diane, or Sandra; her seven grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren, and two (with a third on the way!) great-great-grandchildren—call or visit. “My family is my greatest blessing,” she insists. “Each of them has played a vital part in my life and made me what I am today. They’re the best. It’s not just me, everyone says so!”

So, like winning letters on a Bingo card—or pearls on a strand—it’s evident what creates a life well lived past 100: A great attitude and acceptance of what is; gratitude for what befalls you, whatever it may be; consideration for those who love and worry about you; beloved and attentive family and friends; perhaps a furry companion; and a healthy bissel of faith. That’s plenty.

And after all that, Eleanore proclaims, “You won’t find me anywhere else, here I am!”

Diane Solomon is a psychiatric nurse practitioner in private practice in Portland, Oregon. She serves as adjunct faculty at OHSU, board member of the Oregon Nurses Association, health policy chairwoman of Nurse Practitioners of Oregon, and is a member of Oregon governor Kate Brown’s Behavioral Health Advisory Council. She delights in meeting CSP residents and learning about the ways in which they live active and meaningful lives.

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