July 18, 2024
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Happiness at Fountain View: One Family’s Perspective

In anticipation of the Hachnosas Sefer Torah in memory of Paltiel (Paul) and Baila Chassa (Helen) Sperling, their daughter Rochelle Graubard shares her views and those of her two brothers with an inspiring look into the life their parents enjoyed at Fountain View—Rockland’s premier retirement community.

Your father lived until the ripe age of 100.

Our father passed away at the golden age of 100, after having lived a full, meaningful life. Last November, we celebrated his 100th birthday with a festive party at Fountain View with relatives and close friends.

How long were your parents married?

Can you believe, 72 years! They were truly two halves of one whole and neither could’ve accomplished what they did without each other. They truly complemented one another.

When did your parents come to Fountain View?

Our father was 95 and our mother was 92. Most of their married life they lived in Washington, and then moved to Baltimore where they resided for nine years. At that point it was clear that they needed additional help, and it was decided to have our parents move to a senior facility.

Why Fountain View?

After visiting several possibilities in the New York area, we realized that Fountain View was our number-one choice. Walking into Fountain View is like entering a five-star hotel. It’s exceptionally well kept; the grounds are truly magnificent, and the pool is a wonderful recent addition. But more importantly are the people who make Fountain View work. The personnel—from the executive director to the maintenance crew—are gems. They try to accommodate everyone’s needs and treat everyone with dignity and respect.

Our parents worked hard their whole lives and we were happy that Fountain View offered them such a comfortable and heimishe life in their later years.

So it was a perfect fit from the beginning. Our parents came on a trial basis. As with everything in life, some adjustments were necessary. But stay they did—one of the best decisions they could have made. In particular, our father was ecstatic that there is a shul on the premises, and enjoyed the warm prayer services with a minyan three times a day, all made possible by Rabbi Seplowitz, a wonderful rabbi who is a caring, thoughtful and concerned individual. Another point of appreciation for our parents was the warmth and care in the dining room. For seniors, meals are a very social event. The meals are delicious and beautifully presented, and are an example of Fountain View’s respect for its residents. Our father was impressed that, rather than having to eat the Shabbos or Yom Tov night meal at the specific dinner seatings, he was able to have a full Shabbos seudah after davening. That is what he always did, and was initially afraid he would have to give up this pattern of his life. He was so happy that at Fountain View “Shabbos is Shabbos and Yom Tov is Yom Tov.” The care model equally respects individuality, independence and religious standing. Any person, of any affiliation, can feel perfectly at home.

How did your family dynamics play out?

With our parents together, we functioned as a unit. Our mother and our father loved the gorgeous grounds, often spending two to three hours a day outdoors. We visited regularly and were thankful to witness how, despite our mother’s waning strength, she was treated with endless respect—never as a burden. Until today I visit Fountain View from time to time to look in on those residents I got to know.

How many years did your father enjoy at Fountain View?

A little over 4 ½ years, with a brief break following a stroke. Everyone was overjoyed when he returned to Fountain View from rehab, but none happier than our father himself to be “back home.”

Our father passed away with the love of Hashem on Erev Pesach, 2015, halfway through his 101st year. The day before he had attended every minyan at the Fountain View shul. The night before, his granddaughter and great-grandson had visited him to perform bedikas chametz. We know he had a special bracha from Hashem.

What inspired you to donate a Sefer Torah in your parents’ memory?

They were very active in Washington’s Jewish community; they helped build the yeshivah there. Our father led a group known as the “minyanaires.” Every Sunday morning he would teach bar mitzvah-age boys to daven and lein. He would encourage them to wear tzitzis, eat breakfast with them and play sports together. We keep getting emails from people saying they are frum today in his merit. A Sefer Torah seemed the most fitting way to immortalize the memory of our mother and our father. Neither of them was ostentatious and always valued what was truly important. Now it is befitting to commemorate their lives with the joy and simcha and love of Torah.

With you in Queens and your brothers in Baltimore and Lawrence, why the donation to Fountain View?

We feel tremendous hakaras hatov to Fountain View. For almost five years this community cared for our parents. Whenever we headed back home after a visit, we knew deep in our hearts that we had made the best choice and that we were leaving them in the best possible hands. As an aside, I think you would appreciate this story:

Last year, for the first and last days of Sukkos, my husband and I stayed at Fountain View. My brothers and I and our spouses oftentimes spent Shabbos or Yom Tov with our father, staying in Fountain View’s lovely Shabbos apartments and being able to share Shabbos and Yom Tov meals with our father. But last year our father was in the hospital, and with gentle prodding the doctors agreed to discharge him on Simchas Torah if he was well enough.

Spending Simchas Torah at Fountain View was a wonderful experience—full of life with amazing hakafos. Anyhow, during the day my husband had bought Chasan Bereishis to give to a gentleman who regularly davened at Fountain View to help make a minyan. However, this man did not return after Shacharis and my husband had Chasan Bereishis on his hands and could not even give it to the rabbi, as the rabbi had Chasan Torah. Suddenly, my husband saw our father’s aide pulling up right outside the window. Our father had been discharged and was returning home. They were just about to start leining Bereishis, so my husband quickly told the rabbi to wait. A man of timeless etiquette, our father was hesitant to enter the shul without his suit or his hat. But accompanied by Fountain View’s amazing rabbi, my husband wheeled my father right up to the bimah and he was honored with the aliyah of Chasan Bereishis. What timing!

And now the community will have a new Sefer Torah by which to remember both your mother and father.

Absolutely! A magnificent Hachnosas Sefer Torah is planned, which coincides with the day after our father’s Hebrew birthday. Fountain View should definitely be a first choice for retirees seeking a retirement community, with a beautiful new Sefer Torah dedicated to the memory of our parents to greet them as they enter.

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