Clifton–Life can often take us to new and unfamiliar places. It can also bring us full circle to places we know and love. For Seymour Adelman, 89, and his wife Rhoda of Bloomfield, deciding to move to Daughters of Miriam Center/The Gallen Institute, a long-term and subacute care facility in Clifton, was closing a circle that was opened when he lived there as a teenager.
As a young man his life saw many changes. His parents had divorced and he lived with his mother, aunt and uncle in Paterson, with his father making the trip up from Hillside to see him when he could. While he had a home, it did not allow him to live the life he wanted. After talking with a friend about what it was like to live in a religious Jewish home he realized that that was the life he wanted. So in 1938, at 13 years old, he packed his things and moved to a place where he could have what he wanted–to the Daughters of Miriam Home for Orphans as it was known at the time.
In the years he lived at the Center, there were only orphans and young people in residence, no seniors. A group of about 13-15 teenagers lived in the building on what was then Hazel Road. The setting was much more rural at the time. There was no Garden State Parkway behind the campus and many of the homes and businesses surrounding the Center today were yet to be built. Seymour recalls a different way of life where all of the produce and chickens for the kitchens came from a local farm run by a man named Mr. Yizorsky.
Life for those living at what was then called the Home was in many ways typical for teenagers of the day. Seymour attended School #1 in Clifton and eventually graduated from Central High in Paterson. He has fond memories of spending time at a roller rink, where he was quite good on skates, and attending movies at a theatre called the Rialto. He also remembers being able to practice his faith in the way he wanted, keeping kosher, attending synagogue in the Chapel and studying the Torah with Dr. Solomon Geld, the long-time director of the Home.
He says that faith has helped him throughout his life and is especially important to him now that he is older. He never regretted his decision and kept in touch with his family, who were pleased he had found a place where he could be happy.
After graduating high school, Adelman joined the navy. He was stationed stateside for nearly two years and was about to ship out to the South Pacific when he came down with appendicitis. He had his surgery and at the time, that meant a few weeks in the hospital, so he never shipped out. His enlistment was up and he decided to leave the Navy. Two weeks later, World War II ended.
He became good friends with one of his Navy pals and would often visit him with his family at home. On one trip, his friend’s aunt asked, “Do you want to meet a nice girl?”
That’s how he met his friend’s cousin, Rhoda, and knew she was the one for him. More than 63 years later, they are still together and share a room at Daughters of Miriam Center. Returning to his New Jersey roots he and his wife spent their lives living in Bloomfield and Passaic. He worked at many different jobs, finally settling in as the night clerk at a hotel, where he worked for 10 years before retiring at 62.
The Adelmans’ decision to come to Daughters of Miriam Center was an easy one that they are both quite happy they made. While the facility has undergone a huge transformation since he was here as a teenager, there is still a sense of coming home. They are glad to be able to maintain their religious life and the care they receive has made a huge difference in Seymour’s life. When he arrived, he was wheelchair bound and unable to walk. Now he is on his feet and walking with the aid of a walker. He can maneuver around his room without it, much to his nurse’s dismay.
Being back here, he wonders how many of those who lived with him at the Center so many years ago are still alive today. He is happy that his final home will be a place that meant so much in his life.