CHELSEA — Rabbi Sruli Baron, co-founder and co-director of the Tobin Bridge Chabad with his wife Chaya, has joined Chelsea Jewish Lifecare as the chaplain of the Leonard Florence Center for Living, Cohen Florence Levine Estates, Florence & Chafetz Specialized Home, and the Katzman Family Center for Living.
Rabbi Baron is passionate about his work with the residents in the assisted living and skilled nursing residences.
“There is nothing more enriching than enriching the lives of others, and it is truly my honor to be working to enrich the lives of all the residents at Chelsea Jewish Lifecare,” said Rabbi Baron. “The folks I work with are our parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters. They raised us, lived in our towns, and built our amazing communities and communal infrastructure.” He added, “We owe it to them to be there for them as they reach their Golden Years.”
“We are thrilled to have Rabbi Baron join the Chelsea Jewish family,” said Adam Berman, CEO of Chelsea Jewish Lifecare. “His dedication, energy, compassion and unique ability to impart his love of Judaism is a tremendous resource for our residents. It is an absolute pleasure to have him on board.”
From a young age Sruli would accompany his father, Rabbi Hillel Baron, on his visitations to local nursing homes, hospitals, and hospice facilities in Howard County, MD. He learned that people living in assisted living/skilled nursing facilities often experience social isolation and loneliness. A simple visit can brighten their day or even their whole week.
Chelsea Jewish Lifecare operates the only kosher assisted living and skilled nursing residences on the North Shore, which greatly appeals to Rabbi Baron. “Kosher is central to Judaism and Jewish life,” said the rabbi. “Kosher goes far deeper than the ancient hygienic practices some assume it to be. It speaks to the core of who we are as a people and a religion that seeks to better the world. The Torah guides us with specific rules of what, how and when to eat. That makes us more conscious consumers, and demands that we give back as much, or more than we consume in bettering the world.”
Acknowledging that the pandemic has been extremely difficult for everyone, Rabbi Baron believes faith, spirituality, a connection to our history and tradition are all tools that religion provides us to navigate the pain, fear and uncertainty in our lives. He is looking forward to providing Jewish programming and services, and to being a religious presence for the residents. As he explained, “I seek to provide the guidance and comfort that so many need in these troubling times. In addition, our residents love being able to live in a community where importance is given to Shabbat and the Holidays, and Jewish programming is offered regularly. It allows them to feel truly at home.”
The Leonard Florence Center for Living cares for more individuals living with ALS than any other place in the world. Rabbi Baron admitted that he is inspired every time he visits the residents. “Honestly, I would love to pretend that I am there in an advice-giving capacity, but when I visit with the ALS residents, I truly learn more from them than I could possibly teach in a lifetime. I am humbled by their faith, resilience, perseverance and optimism. I am honored to be there for them, sit with them, speak with them, and yes, learn from them.”
Barry Berman of Chelsea Jewish Lifecare noted that the rabbi’s visits have a tremendous impact upon the residents of the skilled nursing and assisted living residences. “Clearly, our residents look forward to the rabbi’s visits,” said Berman. “Their faces light up with smiles amidst many animated conversations. His presence is both comforting and uplifting.”
On a personal level, Rabbi Baron maintains an active lifestyle. He loves running, biking, basketball, softball and CrossFit. Currently he is training for the New York City Marathon. He and Chaya are the proud parents of sons Mendi and Chezzi, and infant daughter Miriam. It’s a busy household indeed.
“I hope to raise my children as I was raised, on the knees of grandparents (theirs and others) listening to life’s lessons. I hope I can teach them to respect the deep wisdom that comes with lived experiences, and to value the perspectives that can only come from someone who was raised in a time so different from our own.”