For many years now, hairdressers working at Daughters of Israel take care of about 120 clients a week. But the room designated as the beauty parlor was in dire need of a facelift.
Now, thanks to assistance from some long-time supporters and one very young one, it is as elegant as any stylish salon in the outside community. With celebratory fanfare — including a ribbon-cutting and speeches — the redesigned and modernized room was unveiled at the skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility in West Orange on Oct. 8, complete with new sinks and dryers, and three styling stations sporting handsome wood-framed mirrors and plush red chairs.
Funding for the salon came from the Berson Family Supporting Foundation, the Jewish Women’s Foundation of New Jersey, and 13-year-old Rachel Berger of West Orange.
For Randi and Marc Berson, who live in Millburn, it was a new link in a connection that goes back almost two decades. The family provided the initial funding to establish the beauty parlor in 1994, in honor of Randi’s mother, Lila Sherman, who died the following year. The new gift is in her memory, too.
“She was beautiful on the outside and the inside,” Randi said.
When the DOI leadership approached them about supporting the renovation, “it was an easy decision to make,” she told the gathering. “This is a feel-good place. Who doesn’t like to have a hair wash or a manicure or a blowout? It makes you feel like a new person.”
Randi headed up the process, working closely with Paul Gaglioti, the owner of Dieci Lifestyle Spa in Livingston. He helped the family design the room and select the furniture and equipment.
Rachel Berger’s great-grandmother Clarice Littman, who was a resident at DOI in the 1980s, died long before she was born, but the Golda Och Academy eighth-grader grew up in West Orange hearing how Littman loved to go to the beauty parlor and always liked to look her best. Inspired by those stories, Rachel raised almost $700 for the DOI salon last year as her bat mitzva project. On one occasion, as part of that project, she and her friends came to sing to the residents.
Rachel attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony, accompanied by her mother and father, Marjorie and Bob; her brother Josh; and her grandmother, Lorraine Heine of Livingston, Clarice’s daughter, who held a photo of her glamorous mother.
Ann Vicari, who was recently honored as DOI resident of the year, was on hand to applaud the renovation. So was auburn-haired Leona Fiske, a regular client at the salon. Her daughter-in-law, Marsha Fiske, president of DOI’s board of governors, was one of the speakers, and took the opportunity to thank all those who had worked to make the renovation happen.
“This is a beautiful room,” said Lesley Frost, cochair of the Jewish Women’s Foundation of NJ. Beauty parlors, she said, are places “of empowerment for girls and women, places that help you feel your best.”