The following exerpt was published in the program book from the 138th Poale Zedeck Annual Dinner, held December 7, 2019:
The Jewish Association on Aging (JAA) and its neighbors at Congregation Poale Zedeck share a long history of service to the Jewish community with a deeply rooted love for aging adults whom they both serve. They are also committed to the ideology that each exists in support of others, welcoming all who seek their services.
It is with these shared values in mind that JAA is being recognized with the Poale Zedek Community Service Award, the first organization to receive an award that has always been bestowed upon individuals.
The connection between these two pillars of the community goes back a long way, to the early days of The Jewish Home for the Aged, founded in 1906. Already well established, having begun operation in 1881, Paole Zedeck has been inextricably linked to JAA ever since.
“Rabbi Aaron Ashinsky who founded ‘The Home’ believed deeply in the Torah’s injunction of Kavod, to honor and respect thy elders,” says Debbie Winn-Horvitz, President and CEO of JAA. “We are proud to have carried the rabbi’s mission into the 21st century, meeting new challenges and adapting our services to the dynamic, constantly changing needs of our Squirrel Hill community. We feel a kinship with Poale Zedeck which also vows to dignify and respect aging adults.”
A spirit of volunteerism has permeated the walls of JAA from the beginning. Prior to having a full-time administrative staff, the Ladies Auxiliary was primarily responsible for all non-clinical activities, particularly within the Browns Hill Road nursing home. This included meal deliveries, fundraising, event planning, marketing, public relations, and more. Generations of Poale Zedeck’s congregants served in varying capacities within the auxiliary and, in the 1970s and 80s, were particularly involved as auxiliary officers, keeping the organization moving forward with a high level of skill and devotion.
Poale Zedeck congregants have also formed additional bonds with JAA by being or having family members as residents or participants in JAA’s community services. Most likely there are few PZ families who have not had a personal connection with JAA in some way.
Today the JAA is a recognized healthcare leader, pioneering cutting-edge practices and technology in the fields of memory care, residential services, and home- and community-based programs.
According to JAA Board Chair Andrew Stewart, “Our Jewish heritage differentiates JAA from other senior healthcare providers in Pittsburgh. While we serve seniors of all faiths, backgrounds, and financial means, it is our mission is to honor and enhance the lives of older adults by providing a continuum of individualized quality care consistent with Jewish values and tradition. This quality of care is second to none.”
Everyone at JAA thanks the congregants and volunteers at Poale Zedeck for this wonderful recognition.