History of LASHA
LASHA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the well-being of the elderly in the greater Los Angeles area. In 1953-54 a small farsighted group of dedicated Sephardic men and women began to lay plans for the founding of a Sephardic home for the aged in Los Angeles, This small group (15 men and women) whose names follow, were founders of LASHA and their signatures appear on its charter: Eddie Almaleh, Joseph Arouh, Marco Berro, Max Candiotty, Joseph Capeloto, Ralph Caraco, Aron Cohen, Joseph Hasson, Salvador Meshulam, Maurice Mitrani, Sam Moreno, J.J. Nahama, Leon Peha and Alex Tobey.
Despite their enthusiasm and diligence a Sephardic home did not become a reality. Two parcels of land were purchased for a home site. Each was later deemed unsuitable and was sold for a small profit. Fourteen years passed from 1960 – 1974 before Albert Darsa began his tremendous effort to reactivate LASHA by approaching the Presidents of Temples and the Jewish Federation.
Finally he approached Joe Benezra, then President of Los Hermanos, and persuaded him to invite all the Sephardic organizations to a reorganizational meeting at the Sephardic Hebrew Center. The meeting was a huge success—LASHA was reactivated and the same hope, enthusiasm and dedication were generated, as at the time of the founding. Robert Cohen agreed to serve as President Pro-Tem until we could hold elections. Thirty-four of those present paid their dues on the spot and were able to set a date for elections and a nominating committee was formed and chaired by Morrie Angel.
Growth throughout the 1980s
In 1981, LASHA made a decision to affiliate with The Los Angeles Jewish Home for the Aging (JHA), where care is provided to 1,000 Jewish elderly of which 30 are Sephardic. In recounting the history of LASHA we would be remiss if we did not mention the names of Ted Hasson, Victor S. Cohen, Sol Halfon, Joe Benezra past Presidents who where instrumental in those early days of the 70’s. Especially significant was the involvement of Richard Tell, whose constant support and counsel was a tower of strength to us, who along with Dr. Bruce Phillips conducted the first census of a Sephardic community in the United States.
LASHA made history on May 22, 1983 when a dedicated group of more than 400 Sephardic friends attended a gala at the Jewish Home to celebrate LASHA’s association with the Jewish Home. This was followed in February 1985 by the naming of the Sephardic lounge. The lounge was dedicated by the Azus Family in loving memory of their beloved and warm “Tia” Rachel Pinto. Only one year later, a Wall of Honor and Remembrance was made possible by donations and generous benefactors.
The mark of an ongoing organization is the publication of a newspaper. Thus, the LASHON was initiated and edited in 1985 by Pearl Roseman, followed by Jack Israel and Al Passy and is now being edited by Carol Kotrozo. The Lashon is published quarterly and is our attempt to connect and educate the community worldwide about our traditions and other general information pertinent to the Jewish Community. With our publication, we give our members and residents a public voice and a means to express themselves. In addition to Sephardic recipes and regular Ladino articles, the Lashon provides information about LASHA’s events, Sephardic History as well our humorous Djoha stories.
In 1987, The Maurice Amado Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Related Dementia Special Care Unit was founded at Eisenberg Village. The endowment gift received from the Maurice Amado Foundation facilitated the beginning of the Jewish Home’s state-of-the-art Alzheimer’s and Dementia care, the legacy of which continues in the Home’s Goldenberg-Ziman Special Care Center.
The Levy-Kime Sephardic Medical Center
Perhaps one of LASHA's greatest achievements was the completion of the Levy-Kime Sephardic Medical Center in 1994; spearhead by Jebb Levy, a structure designed to serve both the medical and spiritual needs of the residents. In 1999 LASHA donated $165,000 to JHA for the purchase of a property, which was remodeled to become the home for a few of our more independent residents. This venture was the first step for the Home’s Assisted Living Project, called at first, “Cluster Homes” now called the “Neighborhood Homes"? which is still going on today.
As a means of bringing generations together, as well as a major fundraiser for the Jewish Home, LASHA’s Next Generation Committee began construction of the Azus Family Children’s Garden in 1997. In June of 2001, the gorgeous finished product was unveiled. Located on JHA’s Grancell Village Campus, it is a constant source of enjoyment for the residents, as well as for our staff and visitors. Families and friends now have an opportunity to spend time with their loved ones in a beautiful environment.
Nine years ago, LASHA’s AUTOMatic Mitzvah Program was founded, allowing members of the greater Los Angeles area to donate their vehicles as another means of raising money. Increased success has been visible over the years and the program has proven to be profitable for our residents.
On May 15th 2005, LASHA held a fundraising gala, the “Night of our Shining Stars” at a sound stage of Universal Studios Hollywood honoring Victor & Kathy Cohen, Hedi & Al Azus and Cynthia Sieder. This was a very festive event marking LASHA’s 50th anniversary and honoring five selfless people who have given so much to LASHA throughout the years. Over 300 guests came together for a lovely evening filled with meeting old and new friends from the Sephardic community, showing support for our wonderful honorees, winning great items at our silent auction, and enjoying great food and music. The event’s committee members produced a special keepsake tribute journal filled with pages of history, pictures, and personal memories. The Night of our Shining Stars raised a total of $103,000 for LASHA and the residents of the Jewish Home.
LASHA into today
LASHA continues to host many events to raise much needed funds in support of JHA, some of these events, but not limited to, include: Monte Carlo, Day at the Races, Las Vegas Trips, Annual Purim Party, Theater Nights, Annual Senior Outreach, Lecture Series, Burton Chace Park and Annual Hanukah Party.
In 2007, The Jewish Home opened its new nursing facility at the Grancell Village Campus, named the Joyce-Eisenberg Keefer Center, where you will find LASHA benefactors: Irving & Jeanette Benveniste Research Institute Suite, and the Arlette & Harry Lumer Multi Purpose Room, Alan Berro, S.J. Hazan, M.D. and the Garden Walkway sponsored by the Sephardic Hebrew Center together with Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel.
While the preceding contributions and endeavors allow LASHA to fulfill its responsibilities to the Home, perhaps most true to our mission as an organization is the Senior Outreach Program. This is LASHA’s strongest attempt at providing substantial social interaction between the community and the residents of the Home LASHA has monthly volunteer visitation luncheons and three Senior Outreach events per year, and hosts other event throughout the year. The success of these events is a result of its dedicated Executive Committee, Board Members, tireless volunteers and its cooperative relationship with the Jewish Home.
LASHA has grown over the years and presently has more than 1,500 members. Twenty of these members currently reside at the Jewish Home. LASHA acts as a liaison between the Home and the elderly Sephardic community. One way LASHA interacts with the elderly Sephardic community is with our LASHA Liaison Program where our staff person visits people in the community who need assistance or just would like company. A main goal of our organization is to offer a means of social interaction between our members. We assist in providing the highest possible quality of life for our residents and members while simultaneously promoting the livelihood of the Sephardic traditions.
Now spearheaded by Presidents, Rae Cohen and Clement Cohen, LASHA continues its progressive march forward to encompass the Next Generation of young members. Its board is composed of many generations of families, some of whom were there in the 70’s when LASHA reaffirmed the original charter of the founding members of the 1950’s and renewed its ties with the home (1981).
In 2009, the Jewish Home presented LASHA with an ultimatum to relinquish our non-profit status and work strictly under the umbrella of the Jewish Home. After much deliberation the LASHA Board decided to maintain our non-profit status, sever our relationship with the Home as of December, 2009 and remain the independent strong organization on which it was founded.
In 2010, the LASHA Board decided to look into new ways to enhance senior care in our community. We researched devising a senior day care center, building a community center, purchasing a single family residential care facility (6 beds), purchasing a 100 bed residential facility, even renting beds in a facility already in existence. It was decided that these ideas take a lot of funds, planning and work and maybe something for LASHA’s future. The LASHA Liaison Program and Senior Outreach Signature Programs continued to serve the elderly in the community with wonderful events and visits.
In May 2011, LASHA started looking to take the Liaison Program to the next level to provide for a greater number of seniors. This goal will be accomplished by training volunteers to supplement the work offered by our Liaison worker. Our goal is to train 5 volunteers who will each be able serve 25 seniors. LASHA will conduct a classroom and on-site training program to ensure that those representing our organization provide quality services. Volunteers will be required to complete an application and interview, attend training sessions at the LASHA office and work with the Liaison worker in the field. LASHA will continue adding more volunteers each year to expand the program further.
In July 2011 after months of research and looking at surveys gathered by the Federation and Jewish family Services, LASHA started an important capital campaign. Through this research we have learned that there is a tremendous need for affordable housing for seniors. As a result, we have taken on the challenge of helping to provide quality housing for our lower income members in the greater
To bring our mission to fruition, we are currently applying for government grants, working with corporate sponsors and, of course, knocking on the doors of our LASHA friends. We are diligently searching for property to build housing or an apartment building which could house approx. 30+ seniors and would offer a community room for our meetings and luncheons as well as house the LASHA office.
June 10, 2012 brought “Night of our Shining Stars II fundraising gala, held at the Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel, honoring all of LASHA’s presidents (16.) The Gala chaired by Rachel Hasson raised $42,000 and brought each and every president and their families together for an evening of recognition to those leaders who have served our organization. The event was filled with a sit down dinner, silent auction, belly dancing performers, orchestra and an overdue thank you to LASHA’s presidents and founders.
2014 A year filled with monthly senior lunches focusing on foods from around the world. We also had outings comprising of Ronald Reagan Library, the Skirball Museum, and the play, Fiddler on the Roof.
2015 A year filled with monthly senior lunches focusing on foods from around the world. We also had outings comprising of the Skirball Museum, Japanese Gardens and Lunch at Lake Balboa. Also in 2015 LASHA had their signature event the Sephardic Music Festival. Over 300 people attended this fantastic event featuring the Los Pasheros from Turkey, Claude Afota a signer of Israeli, French and Moroccan Music and Victoria, a Persian singer. Sephardic Food, Turkish Style Bazaar and music of the above mentioned groups made for an enjoyable afternoon. What great way to have a multi-cultural event.
2016 Expansion of volunteer visitation program to include distribution of holiday basket to seniors. In April of 2016 Passover Baskets were distributed to over 40 seniors by LASHA Board Members and LASHA members.
LASHA is extremely proud of all our Past Presidents who have worked so diligently to make LASHA what it is today
1974 Robert I. Cohen (Interim)
1975-77 Ted Hasson
1978-79 Victor Cohen *
1980-83 Sol Halfon *
1984-87 Joe Benezra *
1988-90 Nace Cohen
1991 Lou Hasson
1992 Ralph Amado *
1993 Clement Cohen
1994 Roy Oliver *
1995-96 Aaron Cohen *
1997-98 *Jules Aroesty, Nace Cohen & Sam Tobey *
1999-2002 L. Larry Clumeck
2003-04 Rae Cohen
2005-08 Rae Cohen & Clement Cohen
2008-10 Rae Cohen & Clement Cohen
2011-2012 Eddie Hasson
2013-2014 Eddie Hasson
2015-2016 Eddie Hasson