Our History

Our roots caring for the older Jewish community began over 60 years ago, when we opened our doors as the Sephardic Home for the Aged in Brooklyn, NY.

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1939 - 1951

The Beginning

Our story begins in 1939, when Leah Marco Cohen and other members of the local Sephardic community resolved to open a dedicated nursing home for their older Sephardic neighbors after reading about their growing isolation in La Vara, the local Ladino newspaper. In 1951, after years of intense fundraising, their dream was realized and the Sephardic Home for the Aged opened its doors on Cropsey Avenue in Brooklyn.

When the Sephardic Home for the Aged officially opened its doors, the community was delighted. In the words of our first annual report: “They come to our Home looking for happiness and care, for warmth and security, and peace of mind. And it is to this end that the Home is dedicating itself.”

1951 - 1974

The Heart of New York’s Sephardic Community

Over the next few decades, the Home and its residents thrived. In 1954, the Home established the first-ever nursing home outpatient service. Shortly thereafter, in 1960, the Home moved to a larger, new building with 93 residents. During the same year, the Ladies Auxiliary of the Sephardic Home for the Aged (LASHA) was formed to continue fundraising. After the Home celebrated its Silver Anniversary in 1973, The Barkey Wing opened, adding space for 100 more residents. But more than all of this, these decades cemented the Home as the heart of New York’s Sephardic community—a vibrant place where all ages went to feel connected to their heritage.

As the years went on, the Home’s reputation of excellence continued to grow. A Holocaust Memorial was dedicated at the Home in 1978; the new Dora and Louis E. Rousso Atrium opened in 1986; a state-of-the-art Kosher Kitchen was installed in 1987; and in 1993, National Geographic visited the Home to document the use of Ladino by native speakers.

“Care for older generations is a central value of Sephardic Jewry. The realization of our hopes and dreams was in our own hands.”
1990s

The Casa Program

After experiencing an increasing number of patients with Alzheimer’s Disease, the Board of Directors approved the “Casa Program” in the early 1990s. Designed for patients with mild to moderate dementia, the Casa Program created small groups of 10-15 patients who could interact with each other and specially trained staff in a familiar and comfortable home-like environment. The original unit was so successful that 5 additional units were created to provide home-like interactions for even more patients. There was even a La Casa Skyline rooftop unit, allowing residents to be outside in a natural environment. This program was a precursor to the now well-known “Green House” approach of creating a home-like atmosphere throughout an entire nursing facility.

Scenes from the Sephardic Home for the Aged in Brooklyn, NY.

Scenes from the Sephardic Home for the Aged in Brooklyn, NY.

Scenes from the Sephardic Home for the Aged in Brooklyn, NY.

Scenes from the Sephardic Home for the Aged in Brooklyn, NY.

Scenes from the Sephardic Home for the Aged in Brooklyn, NY.

Scenes from the Sephardic Home for the Aged in Brooklyn, NY.

Scenes from the Sephardic Home for the Aged in Brooklyn, NY.

Scenes from the Sephardic Home for the Aged in Brooklyn, NY.

Scenes from the Sephardic Home for the Aged in Brooklyn, NY.

Scenes from the Sephardic Home for the Aged in Brooklyn, NY.

Scenes from the Sephardic Home for the Aged in Brooklyn, NY.

Scenes from the Sephardic Home for the Aged in Brooklyn, NY.

Scenes from the Sephardic Home for the Aged in Brooklyn, NY.

Scenes from the Sephardic Home for the Aged in Brooklyn, NY.

Scenes from the Sephardic Home for the Aged in Brooklyn, NY.

2015

A New Chapter

As the generations went on, the need for a physical home specifically dedicated to the Sephardic community dissipated. But our commitment to supporting our older neighbors remained steadfast. In 2015, we began a new chapter in our history when we established The Sephardic Foundation on Aging.

Continuing our legacy of community care for future generations.

In extending our reach beyond the Sephardic community, we seek to provide older people with the happiness, care, and security that so many found at our Home. Our experience as a nursing home deeply informs our work to advance innovation and connection in the field of aging.