Rennie and Esther Kaufmann (left). Ileene Zate enjoys the social (right).
Rennie and Esther Kaufmann (left). Ileene Zate enjoys the social (right). (Danny Schwartz)

The ice cream social was the kickoff event of the Ella Baker Lecture and Music Series Fund, a special fund for residents at JSL in West Bloomfield to be entertained and enhanced with a series of music and speaker engagements.

An ice cream social event was held on the Jewish Senior Life campus in West Bloomfield, with residents of the Marvin & Betty Danto Health Care Center, Fleischman Residence and Hechtman and Meer Apartments attending with support from the Ella Baker Lecture and Music Series Fund. 

Ella Baker was a resident who spent many years at Hechtman, then Fleischman and finally at Danto. In her memory, Ella’s daughter Esther Salamon established a special fund for residents at JSL in West Bloomfield to be entertained and enhanced with a series of music and speaker engagements. This was the kickoff event of the fund, with many more events expected. 

Rennie and Esther Kaufmann, a singing father and daughter duo, performed various songs at the event, which also featured an ice cream truck.

Sarah Lowe, a resident of Danto, was one of the many residents enjoying ice cream, the music and the friendly scene. 

“We’re just so happy they’re showing concern for seniors, because we enjoy being thought of and we appreciate it so very much,” Lowe said.

“It means a lot, it gets us outside and enjoying the air, and allows us to see everybody,” Fleischman resident Ileene Zate said. “We’ve been stuck inside for COVID, and we’re out now and enjoying ourselves.” 

Tracey Proghovnick, director of Residential Marketing and Community Relations for JSL, realizes the significance of the event after how tough the past year and a half has been. 

“It’s so wonderful to see smiles on faces, people enjoying ice cream and being together again on a beautiful summer day,” Proghovnick said. “We may have taken it for granted before the pandemic, and now we appreciate it even more so than ever.

“Ella loved to walk, loved flowers, loved music and everyone knew her,” Proghovnick recalled. “I hope today she’s looking down and smiling at this beautiful event in her honor.” 

Music Brings Joy

Bracha Drissman, director of Life Enrichment for Fleischman Residence and the Brown Memory Care Pavilion at JSL, says that while music brings tons of joy to the residents, simply being together does the trick even more. 

“Throughout the past year and a half, we’ve had concerts when residents have been in quarantine in their rooms with strolling musicians, but it doesn’t bring the same joy if they’re not able to enjoy it with their neighbors,” Drissman said. 

Drissman had similar thoughts about Ella Baker in light of the event. 

“Ella was all about community and social justice and she would want everyone to have the same opportunities, so whether she lived at Danto, Hechtman or Fleischman, she would want everyone to equally benefit from it, so hopefully we’ll be able to continue these kinds of events and invite other people.” 

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