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East County Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019 1 month ago

Ten centuries of wisdom at Aviva in Sarasota

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Aviva honors its 10 residents who have lived more than a century with special event.
by: Jay Heater Managing Editor

Jack Rosenblum was addressing nine other centenarians in the dining room at Independent Living at Aviva and he didn't waste time with his message.

"Just keep breathing," he said with a laugh.

Aviva Rabbi Anne Feibelman smiled at Rosenblum's message, but she knows there is so much more.

She organized the "Centennial Celebration" as a way to honor the community's 100-year-old residents.

"In Jewish tradition, we are taught to stand before our elders," she said. "This is a way to let them know our community respects them for their wisdom and their years."

Those honored passed around a microphone to share their thoughts.

"I've been here 19 years," said Fran Guberman. "It was a good decision."

Herb Lenk added, "To be 100 is astonishing."

Joe Newman was the elder statesman of the group and he just started living at Aviva. "I'm 106, but I look forward to being here for a while," he said.

Feibelman said Newman still drives his red Mercedes convertible.

Ruth Bell, who is 101, laughed and said that might be the case, but "I don't want to be on the road with him."

Four members of the group agreed to talk about a great day in their life and their tips for young people.

Jack Rosenblum

Jack Rosenblum

Born: April 9, 1917

Age: 102

Profession: Department store buyer

A great day: 

"It was Jan. 27, 1946, the war had just ended (he was a second lieutenant in the Army) and we were coming into port on the West Coast. I saw a pay phone and I jumped off the ship and ran to it. I wanted to call my girlfriend and ask her when we were getting married. But I only had Japanese money so I had to call her collect. When she answered, I asked her when we were getting married and she said I was going to have to wait because, she said,  'You smoke too much, you drink too much, and you are a womanizer.' The operator was listening and I heard this gasp. Then the operator said the call was on the phone company because 'you two need to talk.' So I asked Ellie how long I would have to wait and she said, 'Three weeks.'" Jack and Eleanor still live together at Aviva.

Tips for young people: 

"I would tell them to get an education and do something you like to do. I loved my job."

Ruth Bell

Ruth Bell

Born: Nov. 30, 1917

Age: 101

Profession: Housewife, teacher

A great day:

"I've had so many that I really can't choose, but I do remember the first time my husband (Morris) and I stepped into Paris. Our children were older and we went on a trip to Paris, London and Italy. We had never been. I always had been interested in history. That trip was filled with so many experiences, it would take too long to tell you."

Tips for young people:

"I would say to be content. Always try to make the best of what you have and don't reach for what you don't have. But if you meet a problem, do what you have to do to get out of it. I would also say that as parents, set a good example. When I was growing up, our parents really didn't teach us. They were examples. We would learn by watching them."

Dr. Helen Fagin

Dr. Helen Fagin

Born: Feb. 1, 1918

Age: 101

Profession: Holocaust educator, author

A great day: 

Dr. Fagin was appointed by President Bill Clinton to serve on the site and design committee after the World War II Memorial Act was passed in 1993. Dr. Fagin is a Holocaust survivor whose parents, Ewa and Soloman Neimark, perished at the Treblinka concentration camp in Poland. A University of Miami professor, she had worked with Novel Laureate Elie Wiesel to build the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, which opened in 1993, in Washington, D.C. After President Clinton appointed Dr. Fagin to work on the World War II Memorial, she was summoned to the White House to meet with him. "I remembered walking up a formal stairway to meet President Clinton with my husband (Sidney). I remember thinking, 'If my parents could see me now.'"

Tips for young people:

In her address at New College Feb. 26 during the rededication ceremony of the Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Collection which has been named in her honor in the college's Jane Bancroft Cook Library, she said, "We need more cognizance, much more integrity, we need to learn, we need to teach, and we need not to forget."

Joe Newman

Joe Newman

Born: Jan. 13, 1913

Age: 106

Profession: Accountant

A great day:

Newman, who is the oldest living University of Notre Dame alumnus, was among the founders of what is now known as The Logan Center, in 1950 in South Bend, Ind. Newman and his late wife, Sophie, started the center to help mentally challenged children, such as their daughter, Rita Jo, who was injured at childbirth. At the time, no facilities were available for children like Rita Jo, who eventually died at the age of 27. They started the facility with $24 in its bank account, two teachers and 22 students. Today the Logan Center has a staff of more than 350 with an annual budget of more than $14 million. "I was instrumental in creating that program and my proudest days were when they invited me back there for special events and I could see the results. One time they had what they called 'The Newman Fest' for me." It was so nice seeing the respect they gave me."

Tips for young people:

"I would tell them to try to live a life, where at your eulogy they will say the world was a little better because they had lived. I have been brought up to live that kind of life."

 

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