What You Need To Know About Jewish Senior Living Communities
Published: November 18, 2022
Reviewed by: Deidre Sommerer, LPN, MS, CMC, CDP
If you’re like many Jewish seniors, your faith has an impact on every part of your life. From day-to-day activities to relationships and the meals you share with loved ones, there are rituals and traditions that add color and rhythm to life. When you’re ready to move into a senior living community, you’ll want to continue those traditions and choose a new home that supports your faith and culture.
Thankfully, there are faith-based communities around the country that are guided by Jewish values, such as freedom of choice, living with dignity and the significance of a meaningful life. Around 29% of the 5.8 million Jewish adults living in the United States are aged 65 and over, and Jewish senior living communities cater to their needs. These communities allow older Jewish adults to live with like-minded individuals and worship as part of a strong, Jewish community.
This guide provides an overview of Jewish senior living and explains how it’s different from standard care. It also contains information on finding the right senior living community for your needs, as well as a list of resources that serve seniors.
What Is Jewish Senior Living, and How Is It Different From Regular Senior Care?
Jewish senior living communities offer older Jewish adults the opportunity to practice their faith and enjoy a sense of community as they age. These facilities support seniors who wish to live a Jewish way of life, even as they’re downsizing or looking for a living arrangement that provides care services. The personal care, medical services and amenities provided are the same as those found in secular communities that offer equivalent care, but they’re designed with the needs of Jewish seniors in mind.
What Is Offered in Standard Senior Living Communities?
There are a variety of senior care options available to older adults in the United States. These options are designed to meet different needs, wishes and budgets. All licensed facilities must meet certain standards, regardless of whether they’re faith-based. The table below describes each type of senior care, the amenities and services available and who they’re most suited for.
|Type of Care||Typical Services and Amenities||Best Suited For|
|Independent Living||Doesn’t provide care servicesOutside maintenance tasks are usually includedAmenities often include community spaces, social activities and meals||Independent seniors|
Seniors who wish to live in a community of peers with easily accessible amenities
|Assisted Living||Amenities typically include meals, social activities, transportation and community spacesResidents receive assistance with activities of daily livingMany facilities provide housekeeping and laundry services||Seniors who need some assistance with daily tasks |
|Nursing Home||Nurses oversee residents’ careDaily therapy is often availableMeals are providedSocial activities and amenities||Seniors with complex medical needs who require around-the-clock carePeople who are recovering from an illness or surgery|
|Memory Care||Nursing care and supervision and medication managementAssistance with activities of daily livingActivity programs to stimulate memoriesAdvanced security features for resident safetyTeam members have specialized training||Older adults with advanced Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia|
|Adult day care||Social activities, lunch and snacks in a supervised environmentSome centers may include health monitoring||Seniors who require care during the day while their regular caregiver is at workMay also provide daytime respite care when needed|
|Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)||Provide the same services and level of care as standalone facilitiesSeniors can transition to a higher level of care as needed without moving to a new community||Seniors who want to remain in the same home, even if their needs changeCouples who want to live in the same community but require different levels of care|
Unique Services and Amenities Provided in Jewish Senior Living Communities
Jewish senior living communities provide these standard services, but also have an environment that allows seniors to continue the practices and traditions that are part of their life. Each community is unique, but generally, they all offer services that fit into the following categories.
In addition to the physical environment, communities offer meaningful activities and dedicated staff members to support the welcoming feel of the facility.
Jewish senior living communities make deliberate choices in the facility’s environment to assist Jewish residents. This can have an impact on the physical environment. For example, apartments are likely to have both hot and cold water taps, so residents don’t accidentally use hot water on Shabbat. Some communities may also be able to accommodate gender segregation when required.
Although it’s not possible to only hire Jewish caregivers, it’s likely that team members will have additional training to help them understand Judaism and how to assist residents, such as performing tasks for residents on Shabbat. As many Jewish people emigrated to the United States after World War II, many senior communities offer specific support to seniors who arrived from Europe at that time. This may include bilingual staff and translators to assist those who speak English as a second language. Memory care residents often need these supports. Many communities also provide trauma-trained therapists and other supports for Holocaust survivors and their families.
Activities often emphasize a connection to Jewish traditions. Religious music is popular, and local Jewish schools may do performances for residents. These facilities may have a community kitchen where residents can eat kosher meals and bake challah together, and many facilities offer religious studies to help people connect to their faith every day. Residents are provided with opportunities to connect to the wider Jewish community and perform outreach, such as visiting the sick in hospitals and helping older Jewish adults in secular senior homes celebrate festivals.
One benefit of a Jewish senior living facility is that religious practices are incorporated in daily life, so seniors won’t have to give that up as they age and become less mobile.
Some Jewish senior living communities have religious services on-site and most provide transportation to local synagogues. A rabbi may visit and worship with residents who are unable to attend due to health or mobility concerns. Almost all Jewish communities are welcoming to people of all faiths, and they may also offer nondenominational services for residents of other religions.
The community will generally observe the sabbath every week, bringing residents together and strengthening bonds. It’s likely that Jewish holidays will also be celebrated, allowing people who have no family nearby to continue to participate in familiar traditions. Residents may also be able to sit shiva together when a member of the community passes away.
For many Jewish seniors, a kosher diet is an integral part of their faith. Although many secular facilities around the country have kosher meals available, a Jewish senior community is likely to offer more choices at mealtimes. Kitchens may also include traditional foods, such as latkes, knish and shakshuka. Some facilities advertise kosher-only kitchens that are only used to cook and store kosher foods. If you want to keep kosher, you can request to see the facility’s kosher certification and ask about the certifications of any preprepared foods brought in.
Ownership and Operation
Jewish senior living facilities are typically run as nonprofit organizations. This means there’s a board of directors who make decisions, ensuring the mission of the facility is carried out. In many organizations, a rabbi attends meetings to offer guidance to the board. Although staff members may not be Jewish, these communities are usually run or managed by people of the Jewish faith. This ensures the interests of Jewish residents are considered whenever decisions are being made.
The biggest benefit of a Jewish retirement community is that you’ll be living among people who share your faith, traditions and values. Studies show that religious Americans are healthier, happier and more satisfied with their personal life than nonreligious Americans. A large part of this is due to the social ties of a religious community and the support that’s provided during times of hardship and grief. In a Jewish senior community, these religious ties are part of your daily life, which can enhance happiness.
In addition, the people around you share the same traditions and participate in the same rituals. Celebrating Hanukkah or observing Shabbat with other members of the community can enhance your feeling of belonging, which may not be the case in a secular facility.
What To Expect From Jewish Senior Living
Every state has rules and regulations that govern the different levels of senior care and must be followed by all licensed facilities. Whether you choose a faith-based or standard senior community, the level of care you receive should be the same. These rules can govern the number of caregivers on duty, room sizes and staff qualifications.
Where Jewish senior living differs from other communities is its emphasis on Jewish traditions and values. The activities and amenities provided are designed to build a strong culture centered on the Jewish faith. It’s important to understand the services and amenities offered in each level of care, so you can decide which type of facility is right for you.
This senior living option is designed for older adults who can still live independently but are looking to downsize to a community designed with their needs in mind.
Seniors live in independent residences in a planned neighborhood or apartment building. Homes are generally smaller than average and may include features, such as ramps and wider doorways, for people who use mobility aids.
Personal care is not included, as these communities are designed for people who can live independently. Some facilities may offer certain medical services, such as physical therapy, on campus for an additional fee.
Home maintenance is generally taken care of, such as gutter cleaning and yard work. Some communities may offer housekeeping and other services for an additional fee.
Communities have amenities designed with the needs of seniors in mind. In Jewish independent living communities, this may include:
- Visiting rabbis
- Kosher meals
- Communal areas, such as gardens, game rooms and libraries
- Social activities including music, Mah Jongg and special interest groups
- Transportation to synagogues, appointments and local attractions
Adult Day Care
Adult day care is a type of group care offered during business hours.
Adult day care is generally provided in a community hall, senior center or similar group setting. It provides supervision and care to seniors during the day when their usual caregivers are at work. Occasional respite care may be available, such as when caregivers have appointments during the day.
Most adult day care groups only provide supervision and activities. Some locations offer adult day health care, which includes limited health monitoring, check-ups and medication reminders.
In addition to supervision, adult day care provides participants with a nutritious lunch and snacks.
Jewish adult day care may include:
- Social activities, such as religious study and wellness activities
- Kosher meals
- Visits from rabbis or other spiritual advisors
Assisted living is designed for seniors who are largely independent but need assistance with some daily activities.
Residents generally live in private rooms or small apartments in a larger building. In most communities, seniors have access to private bathroom facilities and may also have a kitchenette.
Assisted living is designed for people who need some help with daily activities. Caregivers are available to provide personal care, such as grooming, bathing and walking. Facilities may also offer additional health services, including medication reminders and licensed nurses on staff.
Kosher meals and regular snacks are included in Jewish assisted living facilities. Many communities also provide housekeeping, maintenance and laundry services.
Amenities found at Jewish assisted living facilities may include:
- Communal spaces, such as game rooms, libraries and craft rooms
- Outdoor areas, such as patios and walking trails
- Visiting rabbis
- Transportation to synagogues, medical appointments and local attractions
- Social activities, such as music, religious study and visits from Jewish schools
Memory care provides care for seniors with Alzheimer’s disease or other conditions that cause cognitive impairment. Services include enhanced security features to prevent wandering, communal living areas to promote socialization and activities specially designed for people with cognitive impairment.
Memory care is often offered in a smaller neighborhood within an assisted living facility. It can also be provided in a standalone facility or as part of nursing home care. Residents are generally accommodated in private rooms.
Memory care facilities offer personal care services, such as assistance with grooming, bathing and eating. Staff is specially trained to assist people with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s likely that the community will have nurses on staff to oversee health care and visiting physicians to provide more complex medical services.
In addition to housekeeping and maintenance services, memory care facilities provide meals and snacks. Many offer specialized programs to enhance memories and support people with dementia.
Jewish memory care facilities are likely to offer the following amenities:
- Transportation to synagogues or worship services with visiting rabbis
- Cultural and faith-based activities
Nursing Home Care
Nursing homes are designed for frail seniors and those with complex needs who require extensive assistance.
Most nursing homes offer private or semiprivate rooms. These are generally set up like hospital rooms, allowing nursing staff and caregivers to provide the health care each resident requires.
Personal care is provided by licensed caregivers, and medical assistance is available around the clock. This can include medication administration, physical and occupational therapy and visits from nurses and physicians.
Kosher meals are provided, and housekeeping and laundry services are taken care of by staff.
Nursing homes have a focus on health care, rather than a wide range of amenities. Some amenities may include:
- Group activities, such as visits from Jewish school children
- Worship services with visiting rabbis
- Communal living areas
Continuing Care Retirement Community
Continuing care retirement communities, or CCRCs, offer a range of care types on a single campus. The most common senior living types found at CCRCs are independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing care, although some also offer memory care.
Accommodation depends on the level of care you need and matches what you’d generally find in standalone communities that provide equivalent care. Often the different accommodation types are in different areas of the campus, but communal areas, such as gardens, living rooms and dining rooms, are shared among all residents.
The care provided in CCRCs depends on which part of the community you reside in and matches the care provided by equivalent standalone communities. The biggest benefit to CCRCs is that you can easily transition to a higher level of care as your needs change.
Services match what’s available in standalone communities. Seniors in independent living residences may be able to access extra services for an additional fee. Kosher meals are available to assisted living and nursing home residents, and most CCRCs also offer some or all meals to independent living residents.
A range of activities and amenities are typically offered to the whole community, providing ample opportunities to develop relationships and stay in touch with friends who have transitioned to a different level of care. Some of the amenities offered can include:
- Transportation to synagogues
- Visits from rabbis and other spiritual advisors
- Social activities and group outings
- Communal areas, including libraries, great rooms and gardens
How Much Does Jewish Senior Living Cost?
Senior living costs can vary greatly, depending on the facility’s location, the level of care you require and the amenities provided. Religious affiliation doesn’t change the cost significantly. However, as many Jewish senior living communities are run as nonprofit organizations, you may find their costs are on the lower end of the scale when compared to secular facilities with similar levels of amenities and services.
Location is one of the biggest factors influencing the cost of senior care. Across the United States, independent living prices range from $1,950 in Missouri to $4,440 in Alaska. You can also find differences within states, reflecting the cost of living in a particular city, how easy it is to find caregivers and the desirability of a location. For example, in Walla Walla, Washington, the average cost of assisted living is $3,211 per month. Closer to the coast in Longview, the price rises to $5,300.
The table below highlights the average national costs for the different types of senior care available in the United States, according to the Genworth 2021 Cost of Care Survey.
|Type of Care||Average Monthly Cost|
|Adult Day Health Care||$1,690|
|Nursing Home Care (semiprivate room)||$7,908|
|Home Health Care||$5,148|
Genworth doesn’t track the cost of independent living or memory care, so the figures above are based on assisted living costs. As independent living costs are 30-40% cheaper than assisted living, this figure was calculated by subtracting 35% from assisted living costs. Memory care is generally 20-30% more expensive, and the above figure was calculated by adding 25% to assisted living prices.
Tips for Finding a Jewish Senior Living Community
It can take some time to find the right senior community for your needs. Each has a different culture, and it’s important to choose somewhere that makes you feel at home. It can be helpful to compile a list of possible communities in your area before looking closely at what they offer. These tips can help you find faith-based options.
- Contact the Association of Jewish Aging Services. AJAS promotes and supports services for Jewish seniors in the U.S. It keeps a database of Jewish senior communities, which you can search to find services in your area.
- Ask for recommendations. It’s likely that local Jewish groups and synagogues can recommend facilities in your local area. You can also ask friends and family who have already moved into senior living for options they explored during their search.
- Research online. Searching the internet for Jewish senior living in your area can provide a list of options nearby.
- Look for communities close to synagogues. This can be helpful if you’re looking for a facility in an area you don’t know well. Many are located close to places of worship. By locating a synagogue, you can see if there are Jewish senior living communities in the surrounding streets and neighborhoods.
Once you have a list of possibilities, you should arrange a visit. This allows you to see in person what the culture is like, if people are friendly and what services are offered. The checklist below gives you an idea of what to look for and can help you narrow down your options.
Where to Find Jewish Senior Living
To help you in your search for the right Jewish senior living community, we’ve compiled a list of facilities throughout the country.
- Kivel Campus of Care
Address 3040 N. 36th St., Phoenix, AZ 85018
- Albert Einstein Residence Center
Address 1935 Wright St., Sacramento, CA 95825
- San Francisco Campus for Jewish Living
Address 302 Silver Ave., San Francisco, CA 94112
- Seacrest Village Retirement Communities
Address 211 Saxony Rd., Encinitas, CA 92024
- Kavod Senior Life
Address 22 S. Adams St., Denver, CO 80209
- Shalom Park
Address 14800 E. Belleview Dr., Aurora, CO 80015
- Jewish Senior Services
Address 4200 Park Ave., Bridgeport, CT 06604
- Federation Homes
Address 156 Wintonbury Ave., Bloomfield, CT 06002
- The Towers at Tower Lane
Address 18 Tower Ln., New Haven, CT 06519
- Kutz Senior Living
Address 704 River Rd., Wilmington, DE 19809
- River Garden Hebrew Home
Address 11401 Old St. Augustine Rd., Jacksonville, FL 32258
- Menorah Life – Toby Weinman
Address 255 59th St. N., St. Petersburg, FL 33710
- Miami Jewish Health
Address 5200 Northeast 2nd Avenue, Miami, FL 33137
- The William Breman Jewish Home
Address 3150 Howell Mill Rd. NW., Atlanta, GA 30327
- Selfhelp Home – Jewish Retirement Community
Address 908 W. Argyle St., Chicago, IL 60640
- Park Plaza Retirement Center
Address 6840 N. Sacramento Ave. # 1, Chicago, IL 60645
- Village Shalom
Address 5500 W. 123rd St., Overland Park, KS 66209
- The Cedars
Address 630 Ocean Ave., Portland, ME 04103
- Charles E. Smith Life Communities
Address 6121 Montrose Rd., North Bethesda, MD 20852
- JGS Lifecare – Ruth’s House Assisted Living Residence
Address 770 Converse St., Longmeadow, MA 01106
- Jeffrey & Susan Brudnick Center for Living
Address 240 Lynnfield St., Peabody, MA 01960
- Jewish Healthcare Center Address 629 Salisbury St., Worcester, MA 01609
- Coville Assisted Living
Address 15000 W. 10 Mile Rd., Oak Park, MI 48237
- Sholom West Campus
Address 3620 Phillips Pkwy., Minneapolis, MN 55426
- Sholom East Campus
Address 740 Kay Ave., Saint Paul, MN 55102
- Rose Blumkin Jewish Home
Address 323 S. 132nd St., Omaha, NE 68154
- Seashore Gardens Living Center
Address 22 W. Jimmie Leeds Rd., Galloway, NJ 08205
- Jewish Community Housing Corporation
Address 760 Northfield Ave., West Orange, NJ 07052
- Greenwood House Senior Healthcare Address 53 Walter St., Ewing Township, NJ 08628
- Jewish Senior Life
Address 2021 S. Winton Rd., Rochester, NY 14618
- RiverSpring Assisted Living
Address 5901 Palisade Ave., The Bronx, NY 10471
- Sitrin Health Care Center
Address 2050 Tilden Ave., New Hartford, NY 13413
- Montefiore Of Menorah Park
Address 1 David Myers Pkwy., Beachwood, OH 44122
- Wexner Heritage Village
Address1151 College Ave., Columbus, OH 43209
- Majestic Care of Cedar Village
Address 5467 Cedar Village Dr., Mason, OH 45040
- Zarrow Pointe
Address 2025 E. 71st St., Tulsa, OK 74136
- Rose Schnitzer Manor – Cedar Sinai Park
Address 6140 SW. Boundary St., Portland, OR 97221
- Plough Towers
Address 6580 Poplar Ave., Germantown, TN 38138
- Memphis Jewish Home & Rehab
Address 36 Bazeberry Rd., Cordova, TN 38018
- Seven Acres Jewish Senior Care Services, Inc.
Address 6200 N. Braeswood Blvd., Houston, TX 77074
- The Legacy Senior Communities – Willow Bend
Address 6101 Ohio Dr., Plano, TX 75024
- Beth Sholom Senior Living
Address 1600 John Rolfe Pkwy., Henrico, VA 23238
- Beth Sholom Village
Address 6401 Auburn Dr., Virginia Beach, VA 23464
- Kline Galland Center & Affiliates
Address 7500 Seward Park Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98118
- Ovation Communities – Ovation Jewish Home
Address 1414 N. Prospect Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53202
- Jewish Home of Eastern Pennsylvania
Address 1101 Vine St., Scranton, PA 18510
- Federation Housing Inc
Address 8900 Roosevelt Blvd., Philadelphia, PA 19115
Financial Resources for Jewish Senior Living
There are many government and nonprofit organizations that provide assistance to seniors. These can help older adults access necessities, such as nutrition, housing and health care. Local organizations can often be found through the internet or your synagogue. You can also find aid at the national organizations listed below.
|Medicare||Government health insurance program available to eligible seniors aged 65 and over and those with a disability||Pays for covered medical expensesThere may be some out-of-pocket expenses, including premiums, copays and deductibles||(800) 633-4227|
|Medicaid||A government health insurance program for low-income residents that’s administered at the state level|
Eligibility requirements differ depending on where you live
|Pays for covered medical expenses and nursing home careOther benefits differ according to the state, but may include home care and assisted living||Contact state offices|
|Department of Veterans Affairs||Assistance available for those who served in the U.S. military and certain family members||Financial assistance includes health care and pensionsSeniors may also be eligible for Aid and Attendance benefits, which can help pay for senior living||(800) 698-2411|
|Network of Jewish Human Services Agencies||A membership organization of local Jewish Family and Children’s Agencies||Member agencies provide human services to people in the local areaIncludes a senior program that offers assisted living, home care and nutrition||(201) 977-2400|
|The Blue Card||Helps Holocaust survivors and their families who struggle to afford basic needs||Direct financial assistance is provided through emergency and monthly programsOffers programs that help seniors access medical services, well-being programs and emergency response systems||(212) 239-2251|
|The Jewish Federations of North America||An umbrella organization of local Jewish Federations that support social welfare and services in their local communities||Local Federations provide a safety net for people in needThis includes home health care, housing, nutrition and transportation for older adults||(212) 284-6500|
|Meals on Wheels America||Nationwide organization that provides nutrition to homebound seniors||Healthy, nutritious meals are delivered to seniorsVolunteers also conduct regular check-ins with recipientsMeals are designed to meet the tastes and needs of local residents, which often includes kosher mealsOther services may also be available in some locations, such as food for pets and congregate meals||(888) 998-6325|
|Social Security Administration||A government agency that provides financial protection for U.S. residents||Eligible seniors can access retirement or disability benefits through SSAStates may also supplement Social Security payments for some recipients, which can be used to pay for senior living||(800) 772-1213|
|Tax Credit for the Elderly and Disabled||A tax credit for seniors aged 65 and older, as well as those who have a total and permanent disability||This program provides a federal income tax credit of between $3,750 and $7,500Seniors must meet income eligibility limits to qualify||(800) 829-1040|
|Area Agencies on Aging||AAAs help seniors access resources that can assist them as they ageThese agencies are located throughout the country||AAAs have experts available in person and over the phone who can refer seniors to local assistance and help them apply for government programsOther services differ based on the needs of local seniors, but they often include transportation, home care, senior centers, health insurance counseling and legal aid||Contact local offices|
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