Seniors Story: Otto

December 5, 2013 | Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit

Otto, a Holocaust survivor, still young at heart

“I was born in Hungary” Otto sometimes jokes, “but not by choice.” Indeed, for a Jew in the 1930’s and 40’s there were few worse places to be living. And like so many others, Otto ended up in a concentration camp—Buchenwald—and ultimately lost 85% of his entire family.

He eventually immigrated to Canada, and from there to Detroit, where he married and had a son. Throughout his life, it has been essential for him to maintain his identity as a practicing Orthodox Jew. Now, living at the Jewish Senior Life Fleischman Residence, Otto has the freedom to practice his religion without worrying about the challenges that come with being a single individual in his eighties. “We have a minyan here, we have a synagogue,” he says. “We have a full-time mashgiach, so I don’t have to look for the ‘K.’ I know that what I eat is strictly kosher.”

There are numerous benefits to living at the Jewish Senior Life residence, and significant freedoms gained by the residents there. “It’s much different here” Otto says. “Before, I had to buy canned soup and heat it for myself and here I am taken care of completely.” Otto also takes full advantage of the extensive programming at the residence which emphasizes wellness, spiritual, educational and social fulfillment. He participates in regular excursions to local shopping centers and other off-site trips.

Perhaps best of all, Otto is an active member of the community at Fleischman and has the opportunity to spend his days with friends. In fact, the community there has become Otto’s extended family. In addition to the over 80 residents at Fleischman, there are hundreds more living at JSL’s six residencies located on the JCC campuses in West Bloomfield and Oak Park. Like Otto, residents now enjoy a freedom that comes with independence, access to services and— most of all—inclusion in a warm and supportive community.

Photos:

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Otto at the Jewish Senior Life

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Otto in the Witness Theater Production

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Otto with a Community Birthright Participant

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