Last Thursday, I called my husband and invited him to join me for lunch at the Margaret Tietz Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Jamaica Hills. They were celebrating the opening of their newly renovated and expanded kosher kitchen under the supervision of the Vaad Harabbanim of Queens. The original non-kosher kitchen has been eliminated and the kosher kitchen has been expanded so the entire facility is now glatt kosher and chalav Yisrael. Since joining the Beth Abraham Family of Health Services seven years ago (now CenterLight Health System), the Margaret Tietz center has been working with the Orthodox community to better serve the Orthodox residents.
As we arrived and entered the lobby, we were asked to sign in and received an information packet about the facility. We were greeted by Linda Spiegel, director of public affairs. Mark Mittel was there and immediately snapped our picture. The lobby continued to fill up with guests and we were serenaded by violinist Albert Mulad.
As we entered the dining room, tables were beautifully set with crudités and dips and we nibbled as we listened to the speakers. The program began with greetings from Joseph Seminaro, the executive director of Margaret Tietz Center, who described the facility and the work that went into making the entire kitchen kosher. Michael Fassler, President and CEO of CenterLight Healthcare, described how the facility has served the community over the years and with the input of the community’s rabbis has increased the amenities for its Orthodox residents.
Marvin Factor, Chairman of the Board, described the history of Margaret Tietz and the founding of this facility and about the smooth transition to making the kitchen fully kosher. He emphasized that the non-Jewish residents haven’t suffered by the change mainly due to the high quality and gourmet cuisine under the capable executive chef, Mr. Yosef Mizrachi.
Rabbi Zavel Pearlman, the Coordinator of Jewish Affairs, also spoke of the increased recognition by the facility of the need for kosher food for the religious residents.
Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld, Rabbi Emeritus of the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, spoke about his own experience as a resident of the facility after hip surgery and how caring the staff is. He also said that the talmidim of Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim who come to help make the minyan for Shabbos add to the pleasant atmosphere for the religious residents. He also spoke about Margaret Tietz, who was born in Germany. Rabbi Schonfeld remembers the Tietz department store, which was located in Berlin and was burned down. Rabbi Schonfeld said, “Evil people will never succeed, and here we are today celebrating this kosher facility which is a sign of our continuation and our best response to Hitler.”
Local politicians were well represented and were introduced. Barry Grodenchik, Deputy Borough President, made personal remarks of how caring the staff was when his mother was a resident and how he and his sister had to console the staff when she passed away. State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky thanked the speakers for reminding us of our roots. Assemblywoman Grace Meng spoke about her grandfather who spent his last days at Margaret Tietz. Assemblyman David Weprin also mentioned that he had a family member who was at Margaret Tietz. Also greeting the crowd were Assemblymen Rory Lancman, Michael Simanowitz, Ed Braunstein, and Yonasan Shenker representing the office of Congressman Robert Turner.
Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld, Rabbi of the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, spoke of the wonderful care his father received and introduced Rabbi Chaim Schwartz of the Vaad, who thanked the people who run the kitchen. Mr. Paul Rosenfeld gave closing remarks and then there was the ribbon-cutting and lunch was served.
Lunch was a beautifully presented and delicious smorgasbord of meat, chicken and pasta dishes, vegetables, and salads.
We enjoyed ourselves, it was a pleasant mid-day change of pace and attests to the wonderful relationship between the community and the Margaret Tietz Center working hard to accommodate all of their residents’ needs.