Singing CJE's Praises

by Cantor Amy J. Zussman, Temple Jeremiah

The following article appeared in the March 2014 issue of Temple Jeremiah's Covenant Newsletter

The only thing in life you can count on is change. Just when you think you’ve got everything figured out, change happens. Recently we noticed my dad was getting more and more confused. He will be 93 in March so it is understandable that he would forget a name or the day of the week. But the forgetfulness my dad has been experiencing is more extreme, especially at night. This, of course, was very upsetting for us. Every day there would be a new incident and I felt incredibly helpless. I was worried about his safety and the impact his behavior was having on my mom and the caregiver. I shared my concerns with Rabbi Cohen and he suggested I contact CJE SeniorLife, formerly the Council for Jewish Elderly.

I made an appointment with Joan Ente, a social worker at CJE. She came out to my parents’ home and did an evaluation. In a little over an hour she helped us map out a plan of action for my dad. She looked at the situation with a fresh pair of eyes and professional expertise. She recommended more socialization outside the house for Dad at a drop-off center a couple of days a week. She also suggested we make an appointment for him with a geriatric psychiatrist for a diagnosis and medication. She even gave me the name of the doctor to contact. She also assured me that she would find a facility where Dad would be able to spend a couple of days a week. A place where he would be safe, supervised, and surrounded with other people to talk to.

Joan’s visit brought us hope. I followed up with her recommendations. We made an appointment with Emily, the social worker at Friend Center in Deerfield and Dad, David, and I took a tour. The Friend Center, too, is part of CJE. My dad has always enjoyed being with people and he had a wonderful time that afternoon. He agreed to go a couple of days a week. On Tuesdays and Thursdays veterans often go to Friend Center and Dad, being a WWII vet, was enthusiastic about meeting these new people. He asked Emily if he could form a bridge group and she agreed that would be a great idea.

We have an appointment with the psychiatrist next week. Hopefully, that visit will also bring us some answers and keep Dad and the rest of us on a good path.

I can’t say enough positive things about CJE. It is an amazing organization and for those of you who are facing the challenges of aging parents, I urge you to contact them.

Joan Ente’s home visit and evaluation were so helpful. The social worker, Emily, at Friend Center was also wonderful. She was friendly, patient and encouraging. Both women treated my dad with respect and he really enjoyed visiting with them.

The only thing for certain in life is change. I’ll be making a big change in my life with retirement and my dad, too, is facing a major change in his life. Dad has always been my most devoted fan. Throughout my life, Dad has been there for me offering encouragement, advice, and unconditional love. I hope he feels I have been there for him, too. With the help of CJE I’m hoping this new change in our lives will be a smooth one.

Temple Jeremiah has many congregants who are affiliated with CJE, and we are proud to have them with us. If you want more information about CJE please contact me or one of them. CJE helped to design a strategic map for my dad and the rest of our family – and I will be forever grateful.


“Throughout my life, Dad has been there for me offering encouragement, advice, and unconditional love. I hope he feels I have been there for him, too.”


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This article originally appeared in the Summer 2014 issue of LIFE, CJE SeniorLife's quarterly magazine.