With all due respect

A NIS 23 million Beit Melabev facility for dementia victims opens in Givat Masua.

Melabev organisation, Jerusalem (photo credit: MELABEV FACILITY)
Melabev organisation, Jerusalem
(photo credit: MELABEV FACILITY)
This Jerusalemite power couple – he 84 and she 79 – are a perfect match. Scotland-born Prof. Arnold Rosin, a longtime gerontologist, founded the Melabev organization with social worker Leah Abramowitz when they realized that victims of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias had nowhere to turn for social support. His pharmacologist wife, Vienna-born and London- raised Prof. Marta Weinstock-Rosin, developed Exelon – a patented drug that can improve Alzheimer’s symptoms or temporarily slow down their progression in 40 to 70 percent of patients.
They have donated more than $1 million to a common cause – the construction and equipping of a permanent home for Melabev in Jerusalem’s Givat Masua neighborhood. Hundreds of dignitaries, patients, family members and other guests – including British Ambassador Matthew Gould and Senior Citizens Minister Uri Orbach – attended the opening ceremony on Tuesday.
The three-story, 1,400-sq.m. space includes day-care centers for 120 patients daily, clubs to improve dementia sufferers’ memories (whose activities are carried out in the patients’ mother tongue, Hebrew, English, Arabic, French and Russian, and suitable cultural contexts), a research center, a Snoezelen room to stimulate their senses, a telephone reassurance center and many other services run by specially trained professionals and volunteers.
The day-care centers alone promote self-esteem with exercise, dance, horticulture, music, animal-assisted therapy and other programs. But all is not yet paid for; NIS 7m. has yet to be raised to cover the costs.
Orbach, 44, remarked that just as Torah scrolls whose letters fade and can no longer be read must still be regarded as holy, elderly people in cognitive decline have to be treated with respect as well.
Institutions such as Melabev succeed in doing so, he said.
Gould related that he was at an iftar dinner ending the day’s Ramadan fast in the Beduin city of Rahat when a siren went off the night before.
“I saw Iron Dome in action, and I have never been so grateful for Israeli ingenuity and technology. But I am impressed not just by Israeli technology in using the Internet, pharmaceuticals, water conservation and green technology, but also in the social sector.
It is innovation like Melabev that develops new ways to help the weakest sector in the population,” he said.
“This facility, Beit Melabev, will dramatically improve the lives of hundreds and thousands of people,” said the ambassador, “and should serve as a model to other organizations. At a time when the voices of hatred are being heard too loudly, we must send a message that violence is not and never will be the answer. The answer lies in values exemplified in this place – the determination to love and care about those who most need it, to help old people whatever their background and language.”
Rosin, who was for years head of geriatrics at Shaare Zedek Medical Center, said that individuals with declining cognition say they have no value.
“You have to restore their identity and personality. Those in daycare and memory clubs are enabled to feel they are somebody, that they can contribute to society,” he said.
Manchester residents Jack and Janice Livingstone, who are financial supporters of Melabev, said that Janice’s mother died of Alzheimer’s after uncaring treatment in a Manchester nursing facility. They sent Jewish organizational professionals to visit Jerusalem to see.
“Now the Melabev model will be adopted there,” Jack said.