A message from our CEO, Daniel Carmel-Brown

06 Aug 2019

As I write this, it is approaching my one-year mark of being the CEO of Jewish Care. It is also close to one of the minor Jewish festivals, one which I’m not sure I learnt about until I was a little older. Tu’ B’Av, the fifteenth day of the month of Av, is also known as Hag H’Ahava – the festival of love.

At the recent Jewish Care annual dinner, we were fortunate to have the fabulous 10cc play out the night and they even changed the words of their hit song, delighting the audience with ‘I don’t like Jewish Care, I love it’. One year on and everyone is asking me “how has it been”? well, I love it too, but I’ll come back to love later.

Since I last wrote, much has happened, including celebrating the opening of two new facilities. Wohl Court, our new Independent Living scheme in Hendon, welcomed tenants in February this year and having spent some time there recently, it is exciting to see how this new community is already developing. In May, we opened Anita Dorfman House with the residents of the Princess Alexandra Home the first to move into what really is regarded as a state-of-the-art facility.

However, it has also been a challenging few months, as we announced the closure of Rubens House, our care home in Finchley. That Jewish Care must juggle continued investment in new facilities, whilst making difficult decisions about older ones, demonstrates the very real tension that exists within social care today. Rightly so, our community expects the high care standards and environments that we provide them in, to be commensurate with what we all want for our families, spouses, parents, siblings etc. One of the issues which tends to be ignored until we absolutely need to deal with it, is the actual significant cost of care. We continue to play a role in helping the Jewish community understand the reality of this cost and I urge us all to do more to plan for what are expected to be much longer lives than many of our predecessor generations.

I spoke recently to a group of residents in one of our homes and it was wonderful to hear from them about their experiences. As I asked them all to introduce themselves, there were many who were fortunate enough to be able to tell me their ages, some in their late 90’s and many over 100 years young. I joked with them that in our community, we are used to wishing people the birthday wish of ‘to 120, may we all live that long’. Of course, we may well have to reconsider this, as it does not feel as aspirational as it once used to.

That we have distinctly Jewish ways to wish people happy birthday, says so much about what is unique about the community. Being distinctly Jewish is what makes this organisation so special and indeed, I have identified that we will need to do more to promote and strengthen the ‘Jewish’ in Jewish Care. This edition of Careline highlights what happens across the organisation on Shabbat, where we rely on so many volunteers to support our staff with shabbat rituals and Synagogue services. Which brings me back to love. The love that our volunteers show for everyone we welcome at Jewish Care is remarkable and we celebrated our volunteer’s contribution at the Volunteers awards evening earlier in the year. That love is most certainly matched by the unstinting commitment of our staff. In a recent appeal film, a family member said of our staff, “you always think no one can love your parents as much as we can, but they get pretty close.”

Yet none of what our staff and volunteers do would be possible without you, our friends and supporters. Your love for Jewish Care is essential to enable others to love us too. So, as we celebrate Tu B’Av, the festival of love, I thank you for what you do and ask you to remain in love with Jewish Care.