Helping our seniors engage and participate to their fullest potential in the community 

Our Bay Area senior population is growing exponentially. The 2004 Jewish Community Study projected the Bay Area’s Jewish senior population would nearly double over 10 years, from 33,000 age 65 and older in 2004, to 65,000 in 2014. The U.S. senior population is projected to double again by 2030, as baby boomers enter the 65+ cohort. 

California, with its high cost of living and health care, leads the nation in the percentage of older adults living in poverty, according to a 2013 report by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Some 20% of the state’s seniors live below the poverty line. Bay Area seniors on fixed incomes have been hit extra hard by the soaring cost of living. They are also living longer, resulting in tapped savings and mounting health care costs. Agencies serving seniors are preparing for increased volume by expanding existing programs and looking for innovative approaches to serve a different population of seniors.

The elderly are some of the most vulnerable members of our worldwide Jewish community. Too many lack the financial means, mobility, and physical health to take care of their most basic needs: food, shelter, health services, social and cultural experiences, and the transportation needed to get many of these services. 

Here are two examples of how we give a lift to our local seniors: 

"When we go out to the excursions, we don’t feel so old. When you are old and alone like we are, it is hard to go out. But when we go as a group to enjoy concerts, ballets, and theater, we forget that we are old people. We don’t think about our illnesses and loneliness. It makes us happy, we forget for a while the hard things in our lives. The aches and pains for away. 

Inna K. 



Programs we fund for seniors

Transportation programs to enhance senior mobility

Transportation has been identified as the most significant unmet need for seniors. Because of various health issues, many seniors are no longer able to drive. For those who are, the cost of gas and parking in San Francisco can be prohibitive. And, for those on fixed incomes, the rising cost of public transportation means that even a bus ride may be out of their reach. Senior isolation, which can happen quickly and unexpectedly with the loss of one’s driver’s license, can lead to depression, illness, and steady decline. Compared with older adults who drive, older non-drivers make 15% fewer trips to the doctor, 59% fewer shopping and restaurant trips, and 65% fewer social, family, and religious trips. There are many excellent programs for seniors in the community, both Jewish and general, but getting out to these programs can be a real barrier for an aging population. That’s why we partner with various community agencies to help fund the following senior transportation programs:

  • The Federation Senior Excursion Fund 

The program provides for 2,000 Jewish seniors' participation in arts and cultural events each year. Grant funds are distributed to 10 Bay Area Jewish agencies to purchase tickets and provide transportation, with an average cost of $49 per senior served. The benefits of providing isolated seniors with access to social and cultural opportunities are documented by numerous studies, and include improved health, happiness, and quality of life. Seniors who participate in excursion activities report significantly higher life satisfaction and better self-perceived health, as well as reduced depression and isolation. 

"Last year we went to Filoli Gardens when all of the roses were blooming. We had a good guide who told us about the history of the house and about the Roth family. How kind of the Roths to share their home with everyone. Things like that didn’t happen in the Soviet Union! We felt like we were the Roths guests, having coffee and tea in their home and enjoying the beautiful flowers and decorations. It created memories that I savored for a long time.  We also drove by Google. What a lot of young people! So very different from what we see in San Francisco. It was fun."

Berta R.

  • The Peninsula JCC's Get Up and Go program 

As seniors grow older and frailer, they often lose the ability to leave home on their own and are isolated from families, friends, and their Jewish community. The Peninsula JCC's Get Up and Go program is designed to break through isolation and loneliness by providing transportation services to seniors in need. Volunteers also accompany seniors, helping them to keep medical appointments, go shopping for food and other needed items, and providing companionship and a connection to the Jewish community at-large.

  • Senior Transportation Vouchers

We partner with various organizations and congregations (including Oshman Family and Sonoma JCCs, and Temple Emanu-El) to provide senior transportation vouchers that reimburse taxi rides to events to which seniors would otherwise not be able to travel. These programs have proven to be popular and have been successful at keeping the elderly connected to the larger Jewish community.    

  • JCCSF Newhouse Rides 

It is also difficult for older adults who are ill or frail to withstand the rigors of public transportation, and the walking required to and from transportation pick-up and drop-off points. In order to ensure that transportation is not a barrier to access for the older adults who wish to participate in the kosher lunch and other senior programs, the JCCSF continues to build on its taxi voucher program, funded by the Federation's Newhouse Fund, providing nearly 600 rides for mobility-impaired seniors to JCCSF programs.

Social programs that keep our elderly active and connected

  • JCCSF Senior Center 

Activities include free daytime programming for older adults, including birthday and holiday celebrations, health and wellness lectures, and musical performances. During monthly birthday celebrations, participants are honored through a party that includes food and entertainment. Entertainers include storytellers, magicians, musicians, and lecturers. Additional afternoon entertainment for older adults involves live concert performances, matinee films and health classes. Each program serves between 100 and 300 older adults annually. There are several clubs and gaming groups that meet on a weekly basis. These groups are free and available on a drop-in basis.

  • JCC Sonoma Friendship Circle

This program provides social, cultural, and educational programming for seniors in Sonoma County. Activities include excursions to theater and other cultural events, travel to Jewish destinations, holiday parties, Yiddish club, mah jong lessons, and writing and exercise classes. Senior Outreach connects Jewish seniors in the outlying areas of Sonoma County to regular Friendship Circle opportunities, including Hot Lunch and Learn, and serves as a gateway to other events, clubs, and classes. 

  • J-Thursday Lunch and Learn Program Oshman Family JCC

Social outlet for seniors in the South Peninsula providing a sense of community, a hot lunch, and social hour followed by an engaging program; festive monthly lunches celebrate Jewish and secular holidays and include special food and relevant guest speakers.   

Helping our senior assisted living campuses

  • 24 Hour Acute Psychiatric Unit at the Jewish Home 

A specialized care unit with on-site psychiatrists (present at least four days a week and on-call every day) licensed as an acute gero-psychiatric hospital provides intensive specialized psychiatric care for Jewish Home residents, while being open to the general community.

  • Health Corner of Menorah Park

Residents are monitored by a physician’s assistant for various types of health issues for the upkeep of physical and mental health of residents. 

  • The Jewish Home Beauty Salon Program

An on-site beauty salon and barbershop that keep residents looking and feeling their best, and help them stay busy and involved in life.

JFCS Volunteer Senior Outreach Corps

Individuals and groups bring holiday cheer to Jewish Family and Children's Services' clients, including isolated seniors living at home, people with disabilities, and families facing financial hardship, delivering holiday gift bags for Rosh Hashanah, Hanukkah, Purim, and Passover. Volunteers do home visits, provide door-to-door transportation, perform minor home repairs, help fill out paperwork, clean houses, do grocery shopping, and deliver food. They also provide respite for family members, assist with simple errands and tasks, offer a hand to hold or an article to read, or simply enjoy sitting in silence with someone who does not want to be alone.

Providing a hot, healthy lunch

  • JCCSF Kosher Lunch Program 

This program provides over 16,000 hot kosher lunches annually to 787 adults aged 60 and older. They serve an average of 53 meals per day, six days a week, 52 weeks per year. For many participants, this is the only meal they will have that day. In addition to lunch and special meals for Passover and other holidays, they provide free Shabbat celebrations, nutrition presentations, chair exercises, and information on additional resources. 

  • JCC of Sonoma County Hot Lunch and Learn Program

The JCC serves 2,000 seniors annually with a total of 25 Hot Lunch and Learn events in Santa Rosa and the surrounding area, with an average attendance of 65-90 participants at each event. Luncheons always include a form of entertainment, a featured guest speaker, or a cultural component. 

Financial assistance, home care, and spiritual care 

  • Jewish Family and Children's Services Direct Financial Assistance Program

The goal of the program is to enable frail elders to access the help they need to live in safety, avoiding premature institutionalization and enjoying the highest possible quality of life. JFCS provides time-limited cash assistance when no other governmental, community, or family resources are available or appropriate to meet pressing needs. Grants are used for rent subsidies, bridge funding to help with mortgage payments, utilities, food items and grocery vouchers, in-home support services, rehabilitation, bankruptcy and other legal consultations, medical insurance, medical and dental care, nursing, mental health services, psychological assessments, counseling, medications and assistive devices, optical and dental care, transportation costs, and other special one-time assistance needs. 

Alleviating hardship for Jewish seniors overseas

  • Operating support for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC)

Through our support of JDC, we provide lifesaving assistance to impoverished Jewish elderly – many of them Holocaust survivors – throughout 70 countries. JDC and its partners are at the vanguard of alleviating hunger and hardship for the poorest Jews in the world. Sometimes these needs emerge from crises; others are more entrenched social gaps. But, whether we are providing food and medicines to elderly struggling to survive on inadequate pensions in the former Soviet Union or pioneering services that enable Israeli seniors and people with disabilities to live independently at home and feel a part of Israeli society, JDC is committed to developing – and replicating – the most effective models of care to improve lives and communities worldwide.  

One example is JDC’s Warm Homes Program in Ukraine and many other countries throughout the former Soviet Union, which helps elderly Jews cope with the symptoms of loneliness. Providing the care of a coordinator to see after the participants and modest funding for food, JDC ensures that seniors come together on a weekly basis to converse, share sweets, and celebrate Jewish holidays and birthdays as a community.



Although senior programs receive funding from the Federation, it’s our partner agencies that provide the services.

If you are interested in learning more about any of the programs, please contact the organizations directly.

Operating Support, Acute Geriatric Psychiatry Unit, Beauty Salon,  Program, Senior Excursions

Friendship Circle, Senior Excursions, Senior Transportation Vouchers, Friendship Circle

Kosher Lunch Program, Kosher Lunch Program and Senior Programs, Senior Excursions

Get Up & Go, Senior Excursions

Health Corner, Senior Excursions

J-Thursday Program, Senior Excursions, Senior Transportation Vouchers

Volunteer Senior Outreach Corps, Senior Excursions

Volunteer Services for Seniors

Senior Excursions

Senior Excursions

Senior Transportation Vouchers


Keeping Seniors Connected: Senior Transportation Project


The Peninsula JCC's Get Up and Go program

Operating support for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC)

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Andrew Kleinman
Grants Manager