Aaron Franzblau loved gardens and flowers. He grew organic vegetables at his retirement home in Florida, and his cultivating prowess drew scientists to study his work. Now, a fitting tribute at Daughters of Israel recognizes the passion of the Newark native, who died in 2009.
On Nov. 26, the West Orange nursing facility dedicated the Aaron and Sarah Franzblau Patio.
Designed to offer a quiet outdoor relaxation area for both residents and visitors, it includes three patio tables with umbrellas, chairs, and comfortable benches. It also features nearly 100 paver stones inscribed in honor or in memory of donors’ loved ones.
The patio was made possible through a Franzblau family donation of $100,000 to Daughters of Israel. The family, including Aaron’s widow, Sarah, of Rockaway and Boynton Beach, Fla., are longtime donors to the institution. In 1978, the Sarah and Aaron Franzblau Institute for Continuing Education at Daughters of Israel was established by the family to provide education and training to professionals and others who work with the elderly.
More than 30 people, including four generations of Franzblaus, attended the dedication.
The patio is the newest feature in a $12 million transformation and renovation begun over a year ago by the nursing facility. Some of the improvements include establishment of a new subacute care facility with a state-of-the-art gym, which opened in October 2009, and the renovation of the auditorium, completed in June and now called the Alta & Janet Cohen Auditorium/Levin-Ball Family Hall; the Slobodien Pavilion and the Women’s League Pavilion, both completed in October 2009; and the Barnhard Pavilion, which is under way.
Other smaller refurbishments are also noticeable to visitors in the lobby areas, gift shop, and outdoor spaces.
There has been a cyber-change as well: In early November, the facility launched a new website (www.doigc.org).
‘Warm and nurturing’
Daughters of Israel was founded in 1906 in Newark as a place that poor and homeless Jewish seniors could call home. It continues to accept Medicaid patients but has grown to include a range of clients, and, in a newer shift, not just seniors.
The subacute facility is a short-term rehabilitation center with a separate entrance. In the last year, it has served clients as young as 42. It is the only facility in the northeastern United States to offer the latest Nautilus Next Generation equipment, specifically geared for the senior population. A transfer training car and therapeutic kitchen under construction are highlights of the facility’s gym.
“Our primary goal is to provide expert care in a warm and nurturing environment to our residents and short-term rehab clients,” Daughters of Israel executive director Susan Grosser said in a prepared statement.
Daughters, a partner agency of United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ, has joined the long list of agencies expanding their funding options in tough times.
“As we are faced with financial challenges due to reduced Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, as well as a decrease in our UJC allocations (which have affected all UJC agencies across the board),” said Grosser, “we rely more heavily on the generosity and support of the Franzblau Family Foundation, the Levin Family Foundation, and others to enable us to make significant renovations throughout the home for the comfort of our residents.”
At the dedication, which was attended by Sarah Franzblau and other family members, speakers included Grosser, Daughters of Israel chaplain Rabbi Zvi Karpel, fund-raising director Joyce Silverman, board of governors president Jan Ball, and Arleen Tarutz, one of Sarah and Aaron Franzblau’s four daughters. Tarutz is a former president of the Women’s League at Daughters of Israel.
In addition to Arleen and her husband, Herbert Tarutz, the Franzblaus’ other daughters and their husbands are Susan and Brian McMahon, Renee and Steve Finn, and Judy and Steve Craft.
Aaron Franzblau, who was 89 when he died, was the owner and president of Arcone Oil Company of Newark.
A Newark native, he belonged to Congregation B’nai Israel in Millburn and Temple Beth Torah in Wellington, Fla. He was among the founders of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, and of the MetroWest Jewish Day School in Framingham, Mass. In addition to Daughters of Israel, he was an active supporter of UJC MetroWest, Hadassah, and the Technion in Israel.
In perhaps one of the most moving moments at the dedication, the Franzblaus’ grown granddaughter, Rachel Ona Warnecke of West Bloomfield, Mich., sang a verse of “The Wind Beneath My Wings,” her grandfather’s favorite song.