When Esther Rootman saw that Baycrest was offering e-visits with residents, she didn’t waste any time. She rallied 50-plus relatives from Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, London, Houston, New York City, Cincinnati, Kelowna, B.C., and other places to jump on a half-hour Zoom call.
Her husband’s beloved 91-year-old bubby, Chaya Moskowitz, was the centre of attention.
Chaya got to see two new great grandchildren who were born in Houston and Israel in the past month and talk with loved ones near and far.
They sang a few of her favourite songs together, including Que Sera Sera, an Israeli children’s song and Next Year in Jerusalem.
“It was very chaotic, which is exactly how the Seder is with her with all the little children. It felt like being with the family. It was good to see how happy she was. She looks very well cared for,” said Rootman, who lives in Cincinnati.
Moskowitz was born in a shtetl in the former Czechoslovakia and managed to get to Budapest under a false identity during the war. She lost her parents and five siblings in the Holocaust. After the war she went to Italy and was spirited secretly onto a boat for Israel. The British captured the boat and put the Jewish children in a camp. They escaped, led by Yitzhak Rabin, who became prime minister of Israel.
She worked as a mashgiach at a kibbutz, a soldier in the Israeli army and as a nurse. She later followed a sister to Canada and worked as a nurse at the Toronto Jewish Old Folks Home, the forerunner to Baycrest. She married Julius Moskowitz and they raised four children together. Those children and their children and grandchildren were part of the Zoom call.
“It was comforting to see that she was good and happy and calm. That was really comforting for everybody. She was so excited to see the kids,” said Rootman.
Because of the pandemic, Baycrest and other long-term care homes are restricting visits. Donations to the Safeguarding our Seniors (SOS) campaign are helping with the purchase of iPads and other resources needed for e-visits and social programs that will keep seniors engaged in a time of physical distancing.
“It was really meaningful,” said Rootman. “Every moment is a real gift and it felt like a really amazing gift to be able to have that.”