German prosecutors say doctors did not hasten Demjanjuk’s death


Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk's death was not hastened by medication administered at a nursing home in Bavaria, prosecutors said.

Ulrich Busch, an attorney for Demjanjuk, who died in March, filed a complaint in May with German prosecutors asking them to open an investigation of five doctors and a nurse, alleging that the pain medication they gave to Demjanjuk added to his kidney problems.

The investigation of the allegations was closed after no evidence indicated that the doctors made an error, The Associated Press reported Tuesday.

The complaint had said that a specific pain medication, common in Germany but banned in the United States, led to Demjanjuk's death as he awaited an appeal of his conviction last year by a Munich court for his role in the murder of 27,900 people at the Sobibor camp in Poland.

Jewish Home to expand to West L.A.


Challenged by an 18-month waiting list numbering 400 people, the Jewish Home of Los Angeles has announced that it will add another campus — this time on the west side of Los Angeles. On Sept. 7, the Jewish Home closed escrow on a 2.5-acre site in Playa Vista.

The Gonda Healthy Aging Westside Campus, as the senior care community will be known, will be located at The Village in Playa Vista. It will offer independent living, assisted living and memory care, supplementing the Jewish Home’s two existing campuses in Reseda in the San Fernando Valley. 

“Our goal is to be spread geographically so that we can serve both in the Valley and West L.A.,” Molly Forrest, president and CEO of the Jewish Home, said on Sept. 11. “Some people would like to stay at home. Others will need skilled nursing. We are trying to present in West L.A. an opportunity to serve almost 600 seniors in a variety of settings.”

Now in its centennial year, the Jewish Home cares for more than 1,000 seniors in-residence, and it assists 1,600 more through community-based programs. Half of those waiting to get into the Jewish Home live on the Westside.

The expansion is being funded in large part by the Leslie and Susan Gonda (Goldschmied) Foundation and the Saul Brandman Foundation. At its core will be the Gonda Campus, with a 176-unit continuing care community for independent seniors and 24 units dedicated to assisted living and memory care. Forrest said the goal is to open the campus within four years.

This is part of a bigger plan. Forrest said that the Jewish Home aims to purchase a skilled nursing facility in the area and find a Westside site for a Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). The federal program, known at the Jewish Home as the Brandman Centers for Senior Care, provides a full range of health-care services for seniors living independently in the community in order to allow them to remain in their homes. This can include anything from meals and therapy to medical care and transportation.

Forrest said the move to West L.A. reflects the Jewish Home’s aspirations to serve 5,000 people by 2015. Already, it is the largest single-source provider of senior housing in Los Angeles.

“It’s a huge step forward for us,” Forrest said.

Longer life, programs, care make Jewish Home’s wait list daunting


As bombs dropped over Germany, aerial photographer Arthur Oxenberg would lean out of a B-17 Flying Fortress with his camera to snap a photograph. His photos were a way the U.S. Army Air Forces could tell whether bombs hit their targets.

Based in Italy, Oxenberg flew 62 combat missions with the 301st Bombardment Group, 419th Squadron, bombing factories and military installations in Germany, Hungary and Austria. Seventy years later, he still has the log that recorded those missions.

On Nov. 4, 1944, Oxenberg wrote, “I hope that today’s mission was the ‘rough’ one. I don’t like to think of having another one like it. It was one of those days. Everything happened. … Twice I passed out for short periods because of lack of oxygen.”

“His big fear was that he would die over some country where no one would know him,” said Jan Oxenberg, his daughter. “When he came back to the United States after his final mission, he literally bent down and kissed the ground.”

After the war, he made a name for himself starting several of his own businesses. But today, Oxenberg, who turns 90 on Sept. 2, is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and requires 24-hour care.

Like many people his age, Oxenberg is seeking admittance to the only dedicated Jewish elderly assistance facility in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Jewish Home, in Reseda, is the largest multilevel senior living facility in the Western United States. But it is also the smallest Jewish senior living facility, based on Los Angeles’ per capita Jewish population, according to Jewish Home CEO and President Molly Forrest. The Jewish Home caters to the needs of more than 1,900 in-residence seniors each year, providing services that include independent living accommodations, residential care, skilled nursing care, short-term rehabilitative care, acute psychiatric care, and Alzheimer’s disease and dementia care.

Arthur Oxenberg as a photographer during World War II. Photo courtesy of Jan Oxenberg

Consequently, the Jewish Home has a wait list of up to two years. On any given day, there are about 400 people on the list, and only 100 to 200 of those are actually admitted each year, according to Forrest.

“Our promise to provide for the comprehensive needs of our residents means that current residents who require a change in the level of their care are the first in line for any newly available space at the Home—before new applicants,” she said. “While the Home does have a wait list, each person is considered on a case-by-case basis. We make accommodations when we can, but we can’t simply have one person move ahead of others on the wait list.”

Jan Oxenberg, a television writer, contacted the Jewish Home in February when she moved her father from Florida to Los Angeles, where two of his four children reside. Since then, Arthur Oxenberg has lived in private assisted living facilities and a VA-contracted nursing home.

“It is so painful to see him like this. He grabs his head and says, ‘Make me real again!’ ” Jan said. “The amazing thing is that he knows who we are. He is still very talkative, friendly and social.”

Because of his condition, Jan sought to admit her father to the Jewish Home’s Auerbach Geriatric Psychiatry Unit program. Like all other applicants, Oxenberg was faced with the daunting wait list.

“We try to be responsive, but it’s hard when we are 98 percent filled at all times,” Forrest said.

The first priority for new admissions is those in unsafe living conditions.

“Preference may also be given to those who can benefit from the Home’s unique programs and services, including survivors of traumatic life events such as the Holocaust, violent crime or elder abuse,” she said.

“In reviewing applications, we do take hardships into consideration. However, each person is an individual who is considered on his or her particular and unique basis. We do give preference to those who have served the Jewish Home and Jewish community, including employees, volunteers, rabbis and Jewish communal workers,” Forrest said. “Making a donation is never a condition of admission to the Jewish Home. In fact, the vast majority of our residents are financially needy.”

For dementia care with skilled nursing, someone can be on the wait list for six months to two years.

This lengthy wait list is partially because the average age of Jewish Home residents is more than seven years above the national average and the average length of stay is more than eight years, compared with two to three years in similar settings, according to Forrest.

“Because of the quality of our home, we like to say that we add life to years and years to life,” she said. “Our statistics are unlike any other programs. We ask people why they want to come here. Half of the applicants on the wait list say because of the quality of our medical services, and the other half say that they are lonely and want to make friends.”

Reasons like this are why the Oxenbergs and other families are drawn to the Jewish Home.

Jan Oxenberg said that it’s important for her father to be able to socialize, something she knows the Jewish Home will provide. And so, Jan, and hundreds of other families, endure the wait in hopes of securing a spot in one of the Jewish Home’s facilities.

“One of the great things about the Jewish Home is that they honor our people,” Jan said. “It is very important for him to be in a place where he can be around people and socialize.”

Israel’s geriatrics study tour inspires professionals


At the Beit Shirley senior residential and day care facility in Dimona, the staff has installed motion sensors to help cut falling incidents by half. But it’s the addition of a backup system that caught the attention of visitors participating in the first International Geriatric Study Tour in Israel — small dogs have been trained to notify staff when an older resident falls. These same dogs also do double duty at Beit Shirley during physical therapy, providing a lighter atmosphere to encourage greater participation by its senior clientele.

“It is a pleasant place to spend time. It makes me think of improving the nursing facilities in my community,” said Karen Alexander, director of Eldercare Services in the United Jewish Communities of Metrowest New Jersey.

Nearly a dozen eldercare professionals and paraprofessionals spent three days in January on a whirlwind tour of Jerusalem, Beersheva and Dimona, visiting day-care centers, sheltered housing arrangements and full-service facilities; listening to lecturers addressing such topics as how different ethnic groups care for their elderly and innovations in Alzheimer’s care, and learning about new developments in aging-related services.

The Jan. 8-10 tour was jointly organized by the American Society on Aging (ASA), one of the largest U.S. organizations of multidisciplinary professionals in the field of aging, and Melabev, an award-winning Jerusalem nonprofit care agency for elderly people with Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related diseases.

“On my last trip with Melabev I was amazed by the energy and enthusiasm of the volunteers and professionals in Israel in this field,” said Amy Eisenstein, an ASA representative and education coordinator with Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. “I thought of bringing the innovations to the attention of other professionals to enable them to think outside the box.”

“We’re going on our expertise,” tour co-coordinator Rakel Berenbaum of Melabev’s Resource Center said. “In Israel’s compact area, its multicultural population has different approaches and frameworks for the elderly. While similar facilities may exist in the United States, they’re spread out in a much larger area. For the itinerary we looked for places that offer quality care with innovations that participants can learn from.”

Those participating in the tour hailed from the United States, Australia, South Africa, the Ukraine and Israel, and qualifying participants earned 30 continuing education units from the National Association of Social Workers.

“We had an outstanding taste of many aspects of care for older adults,” said Paul Bennett, project director of the System’s Change Grant at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Bennett’s research focuses on changing the system of services to older adults from nursing homes to home and community-based programs.

“In recent years the trend throughout the United States is towards nursing home diversion in order to save federal funds. It would be ideal if older adults in nursing homes could reenter and reestablish themselves in the community. At home the older adult doesn’t need services around the clock, but rather intermittent services,” he added.

Bennett was particularly interested in a presentation by JDC-ESHEL, a nonprofit organization founded and supported by the Israeli government and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which strives to improve the status of the elderly in Israel through planning and developing new and innovative services.

The organization has about 200 supportive communities that enable the elderly to remain in their own homes among friends and familiar surroundings as long as possible, even when they become frail, by delivering necessary services to their homes. “These communities have an av kehilla [community father] similar to a case manager. The av kehilla is almost like a son whom the older adults can turn to,” Bennett said.

Tour co-sponsor Melabev, a Hebrew acronym that means “heart-warming,” operates nine day centers throughout Jerusalem. The organization’s efforts ease the burden on families, enabling them to keep elderly relatives with dementia in the warmth of the family home and in the familiar community for longer than might happen otherwise. By forestalling or preventing institutionalization, Melabev’s services are considered a cost-effective strategy.

The centers provide a therapeutic and social framework that enhances the quality of life for those afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease or similar disorders. Family members continue their daily activities, knowing their relatives receive care in a supportive environment while enjoying activities like physiotherapy, occupational therapy, art, music, dance therapies and cooking.

Melabev also runs memory clubs for those suffering from mild memory loss, a memory assessment clinic and home care. The centers’ counseling and support groups for family and caregivers are offered in a few languages for the city’s immigrant populations. Savyon, an innovative computer program developed at Melabev, helps activate patients and stimulate cognitive functions.

The centers’ multifaceted services are backed up by a devoted cadre of volunteers, including retirees and healthy older adults who want to assist those less fortunate.

Volunteerism in Israel is a major ingredient in many thriving social enterprises. During the tour, the group visited Jerusalem’s Yad Sarah House, headquarters of Israel’s largest voluntary organization with 6,000 volunteers in 103 branches throughout the country.

Yad Sarah provides a range of free or nominal cost services designed to make life easier for sick, disabled and elderly people and their families, thus saving money for the government.

“The volunteer guide at Yad Sarah had such a sense of pride in her volunteer work that I was wondering what we can do to inspire our volunteers to have such a sense of pride,” Alexander said.

Plans are already under way for a new study tour to northern Israel next year.

“By participating in the tour and seeing many programs and ideas, I’m kept motivated,” ASA’s Eisenstein said.

Amy Eisenstein will give a presentation about the tour and provide details about a 2009 tour at the American Society on Aging and the National Council on Aging conference (www.agingconference.org) in Washington, D.C., March 26-30.

Jewish Home’s makeover: yoga at 3, facials at 4


After strolling down the hall from your room for breakfast, you duck into the art studio to work on your latest ceramics project. Then you head down to the club room for a yoga class.
 
You have lunch, then sit in a shaded outdoor courtyard, listening to the sound of a nearby fountain and chatting with a friend. The two of you step into the salon for facials and hair styling before heading to the dining room, where you select from a choice of dinner entrees.
 
Oh, and by the way, you’re 84-years-old and you live in a skilled-nursing facility.

While this may not sound like life in a nursing home, it could be a typical day at the Joyce Eisenberg-Keefer Medical Center, which will be dedicated Oct. 29 as the newest facility at the Jewish Home for the Aging in Reseda. The $58.5 million, 249-bed center, the largest building in the home’s nearly 100-year history, is designed to provide emotional and spiritual, as well as physical, well-being to its residents.

“There are few, if any, skilled-nursing facilities that truly foster healthy living,” said Jewish Home for the Aging President and CEO Molly Forrest. “We firmly believe in investing in healthy living programs and facilities that reinforce life and are focused on quality living each day.”
 
Located at the corner of Tampa Avenue and Sherman Way, at the home’s Grancell Village Campus, the center includes three interconnected buildings. Two of them — the Hazan Pavilion and the LaKretz-Black Tower — are residential structures, while the Brandman Research Institute houses an in-patient acute psychiatric-care unit, research offices, a computer center/library, art studio and fitness room.

The center’s new acute in-patient psychiatric-care unit was especially needed given the psychological issues faced by many seniors, Forrest said. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, people older than 65 have the highest rates of suicide of any age group, and men account for 84 percent of those suicides. Forrest notes that many of the Home’s residents, whose average age is 84, have outlived spouses, siblings, friends and sometimes their children. In addition, more than 50 of the home’s residents are Holocaust survivors, who often have particular psychological issues.
 
The Joyce Eisenberg-Keefer Medical Center will provide a new home for 114 of the 350 individuals currently on the home’s waiting list for skilled-nursing care. In addition, 125 residents currently living in an outmoded, 50-year-old building at the Home’s nearby Eisenberg Village Campus will be transferred to the new facility. The remaining 10 beds are in the psychiatric unit.

Featuring small, intimate settings, each of the building’s five floors are divided into three donor-designated “neighborhoods” (among them, for example, Boyle Heights and Chicago) each delineated by its own color scheme and artwork. Each floor has three dining rooms — the main dining room, a smaller room for those who cannot feed themselves, and a medium-size “transitional” one for residents who are relearning feeding skills — and a family visiting room.
 
In addition, the floors are equipped with their own computer room/library, with a reading area, cable television, computer and phone for communal use. A “club room” on every floor offers fitness classes such as Tai Chi and stretching, while the creative studio, staffed 12 hours daily, enables residents to engage in painting, woodworking and other crafts.
 
“We want to give residents the opportunity to improve their lives and build on their skills,” Forrest said.
With decor more suggestive of a hotel than a skilled-nursing facility, carpeting takes the place of linoleum in hallways and resident rooms. Birch bookcases and armoires grace the interior of each room, while outside a mounted “memory box” displays personal photos and memorabilia.
 
Residents, visitors and staff can also patronize Gerald’s Deli, a pareve eatery featuring soups and sandwiches. And then there’s Maxi’s, a salon offering hair cutting, coloring and styling, makeup, facials, waxing and shaves.

Forrest said that the new facilities also will enable the home to hold more community programs. Brawerman Terrace, located on the roof, will be the site of future holiday gatherings, garden parties and other events, while the computer center will host classes open to the public.
 
The Joyce Eisenberg-Keefer Medical Center is the second major project of a $72 million campaign launched in 1999 to build new facilities and upgrade existing ones. The first project was the Goldenberg-Ziman Special Care Center for patients with dementia, which was dedicated in 2002. Next year, the home plans to begin construction of Fountainview at Eisenberg Village, a 108-unit, upscale independent-living facility. Plans also call for establishing a facility on the Westside, and potential locations are currently being considered.
 

Big-Screen King’s Legacy of Generosity


Paul I. Goldenberg avoided playgrounds and sports when he was growing up because he lacked athletic prowess. He spent hours in the cool darkness of a movie house.

In central Los Angeles of the ’30s, where his parents had little money to spare, Goldenberg scrounged for pop bottles, collecting enough deposits to pay for weekend film marathons. From Friday to Sunday, he lived vicariously, absorbed in the characters portrayed by Clark Gable and Groucho Marx.

Several cousins also lived in his parents’ modest home. Its backyard was shaded by fruit trees, enriched by a flock of 40 chickens. He was 16 when his father, Joe, a former attorney toiling as a shipyard accountant, died. During shiva, nearly every man in the neighborhood shared an anecdote with the teen-ager about his father’s generosity, that freely dispensed advice or a sack of surplus avocados.

His private passion for film would play a formative role in the financial bonanza created by his adult alter-ego, "the King of Big Screen." But his father’s powerful role model was equally influential, propelling Goldenberg into one of the state’s largest political contributors and a major donor to numerous non-profit groups.

The Los Angeles Jewish Home for the Aging in Reseda honored Goldenberg, 75, owner of La Habra’s Paul’s TV & Video, as well as others at a gala last month. Goldenberg helped fund the home’s newest $14.3 million building, designed to reflect the latest research on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. He pledged another $2 million towards a $52 million nursing-home expansion, which is hoped will accommodate 40 percent of those on the facility’s 350-person waiting list.

"I can’t think of anything more worthwhile than the home in Reseda," said Goldenberg, whose cousin, Israel Murstein, is a resident, as was another cousin, the late Betty Klein.

"It is nicer than any hotel you’ve ever been in," he said of the Alzheimer’s home for 96 residents, known as the Goldenberg-Ziman Special Care Center.

"He gets it," said Molly Forrest, the home’s chief executive. "The elderly in our community have to have a quality facility," she said, adding that the Jewish home alone in Southern California was singled out in March by state licensing authorities for its perfect certification survey.

Goldenberg’s gold mine is Paul’s TV, located four miles from the nearest freeway exit. Far better known throughout Southern California is Goldenberg’s advertising boast as the self-proclaimed champion of big-screen television sales. "I am the king," he declares in newspaper, billboard and radio spots that tout big-screen sales of more than 100,000 units.

For the 19th straight year, Japan’s Mitsubishi Electric Corporation named Paul’s as the biggest single-store seller of its big-screen TVs.

"We love Paul," said Cayce Blanchard, a Mitsubishi spokeswoman in Irvine. Paul’s sells only two brands: Mitsubishi and Panasonic flat screen TVs.

"He does an unbelievable amount of business," said Brad Bridenbecker, city manager of La Habra, which perennially counts Paul’s among its top sales-tax producers.

How much, Goldenberg won’t say. The store’s modest size and appearance often surprise first-time visitors. Equally surprising is its staffing. On a recent weekday, five salesmen manned a showroom smaller than the typical suburban home. To keep its pledge of four-hour delivery, Paul’s maintains a 30-truck fleet for installers that travel from Ventura to Carlsbad.

"I’m very dedicated to the idea that customers should get what they pay for," said Goldenberg. "With a chain of five or 10 stores, it’s very hard to know what’s going on with customer satisfaction."

Knowing Paul’s pulse is part of Goldenberg’s routine, which also includes frequent travels responding to invitations, such as one received recently from Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.).

Although he occupies the store’s only private office, its desk and table are a neglected pile of papers in disarray. Customers, who often demand an audience with the "king," are more likely to see Goldenberg rooted to a desk reserved for customers filling out paperwork. Like petitioners approaching the throne, a procession of employees and visitors vie for his eye contact during an ongoing conversation that drags into hours due to the interruptions. He signs a proffered check; critiques a memo; explains required retouching to a painter; gives a deadline to a signmaker; criticizes a manufacturer’s warranty card; and imperiously calls employees for help answering questions.

Within Paul’s dominion, the ruler is a detail-oriented autocrat.

The late Jack Lawlor, who owned an advertising agency and believed Paul’s could attain regional prominence, created the trumped-up title.

"He was like an Olympic coach who pushed me to go farther than I ever would have," said Goldenberg, who got his start by borrowing $1,000 from his cousins to open a TV repair shop in Los Angeles.

In 1979, when Mitsubishi introduced the first big-screen TVs, Paul’s was one of the first takers, a confidence buoyed by Goldenberg’s own love for cinema. "I was among the first to recognize their potential for bringing a movie-like experience into the home," he said.

More than TVs are on display at Paul’s. A red velvet and gold crown is kept pristine under an acrylic cube. Nearby are photos of Goldenberg with former presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan. It keeps company with the 138-page bound script for "Terminator 2," signed by Arnold Schwarzenegger; commemorative plaques for La Habra firefighters; a letter of thanks from Los Angeles’ Cardinal Roger Mahoney; and a signed Kobe Bryant jersey. More signed celebrity photos line two walls.

Goldenberg’s personal self-indulgences include a red Ferrari and Dodger season tickets behind home plate. He lives in La Habra Heights and is divorced. His son, Doug, is a botanist-biologist for the federal Bureau of Land Management. If there is a Paul’s succession plan, Goldenberg is unwilling to share it. "I wouldn’t have any challenger," he deadpanned.

"The store has allowed me to fulfill some of my dreams to help people who are less fortunate than I," said Goldenberg. He also contributed $209,210 to Democratic candidates and was the state’s fifth largest individual contributor to federal campaigns, the Los Angeles Times reported in January 1999.

He supports the California Highway Patrol 11-99 Foundation and chairs its scholarship committee, which awarded $1.2 million to 700 students this year.

"He has a big heart," said Pam Anspach Colletti, a counselor at La Habra’s Sonora High School, where Goldenberg personally hands out $500 student scholarships. He awarded 40 between two schools last spring. He also underwrites an annual trip for 10 students to Washington, D.C., from Los Angeles’ Dorsey High, his own alma mater.

"He has a wonderful spirit of giving in that he recognizes how blessed he is," said Juan M. Garcia, La Habra’s mayor. "It makes him feel good. He has more than he’ll ever need."

A recent recipient of Goldenberg’s charity is Duarte’s City of Hope, a cancer research and treatment center. Last year, he observed the facility firsthand during a friend’s illness.

"He stepped up to the plate and said he wanted to help," said Richard Leonard, a senior development officer at City of Hope, where Goldenberg is funding an elevated walkway. "He’s got a sense of tzedachah; he knows what’s just in his heart."

Though he considers himself Jewish, Goldenberg acknowledges his synagogue attendance is irregular.

"In Torah, it says ‘God loves the just man.’ There’s nothing about God loving the man who goes to synagogue.

"I’ve tried my best to be a just man."

My Brother’s Keeper


My brother, who at 70 is younger than me by two years, has a world-class collection of the mysteries of Agatha Christie and a complete set of the novels of Anthony Trollope. They are being joined, gradually, by the Greek historians and Galsworthy’s Forsythe Saga.

These volumes, together with the Wall Street Journal, the New Yorker, the Economist and other publications to which he subscribes, sit on a bookshelf and rolling table by his bedside in a nursing home about one mile from our home in Providence, RI.. My brother never married or fathered children so on the wall over his bed are pictures of our parents and my wife and daughter. If I could locate them I would also find place for his doctoral degree in economics from Harvard and his law degree from New York University.

But they have been lost over the years of his illnesses, which began in his 20s with schizophrenia and now include Parkinsons, some dementia and occasional seizures. These have so debilitated him that he rises from his bed now only to shuffle slowly behind his walker to the bathroom.

I visit him three or four times a week, bring him another book, straighten out his bookshelf, give him news of those of his friends who still call me to ask of his condition, and sit for a half hour or so by his bed just to let him know that I am there. There is little verbal communication between us since he finds it difficult to understand what anyone is saying and often simply doesn’t respond.

For half a century we had no contact with each other. I lived as an adult first in Jerusalem, then Los Angeles and now Providence. For some of those years he was institutionalized. When schizophrenia became controllable by drugs he began to write textbooks on economics one of which, on anti-trust legislation, is still in the libraries of many universities.

Later my brother moved to New Zealand where he was an advisor to the government on economic matters.

I did not hear from him until several years ago when, babbling incoherently, he wandered into a doctor’s office in Manhattan and was placed in a hospital. He remained there for a year, during which I visited him weekly and finally succeeded in having him brought to Rhode Island, having found a nursing home both clean and compassionate.

When he came here last year, my wife outfitted him with an electric typewriter, paper, a small desk, a dictionary and a thesaurus. He spent several hours each day writing charming little stories about animals and even began a memoir about his years in New Zealand. I hoped that we might be able to publish some of his writings but gradually he lost interest and also the dexterity required to type. Today the typewriter gathers dust as do the TV and the VCR, neither of which he can operate or in which he has any interest.

Often when I visit he is sleeping, the effect I imagine of some of the drugs he takes. I try to rouse him just to let him know that I am there but he rarely awakens. I place the newest book on his table, spend a few minutes straightening out his things and leave, guiltily relieved if truth be told, that I have the half hour free to attend to other matters. If he were in a coma or otherwise near death I would stay, hold his hand to let him know he was not alone, and read by his bedside although neither Christie, Trollope nor the Economist are my preferences.

He has support in addition to my visits. The Rhode Island Jewish Federation sends a rabbi to visit him and supplies him with religious objects necessary to observe the Jewish holidays. And the nursing home staff bought him some Christmas cookies and chocolates so that he would not feel left out of the celebrations. I would like to be able to ask him about his life in New Zealand, his opinions about the Microsoft anti-trust case, and other matters about which he has some expertise. As the only Republican in a family of liberal Democrats, his thoughts on impeachment would be interesting to hear and to discuss.

But he is past all that now. His days and nights are spent in bed, moving restlessly from a lying down to a sitting up position and back again. The doctors tell me that this is a symptom of his illness and that all of his problems are progressive; that he can remain this way, his mind functioning but his body helpless for some years to come.

In the meantime I note a slight improvement. He has remembered another author he would like to read, Angela Thirkell, a British novelist. I have checked with Books in Print; Ms. Thirkell’s novels have recently appeared in paperback. There are a good number of them; my brother’s reading schedule is set for several months to come.


Yehuda Lev writes from Providence, Rhode Island.