In processing the files of various Federation consultants on medical care and care of the aged, I encountered an agency-published journal, almost a zine, created by the Jewish Association for Service for the Aged (JASA) in 1977. At the time of the journal, the Association was less than ten years old and closely affiliated with the Federation’s goal of providing care and assistance to the Jewish elderly in the metropolitan New York area.
Providing services to the aged in all five boroughs of New York, there is a report found alongside the journal that outlines the programs offered in the Bronx:
JASA’s services in the Bronx falls into two major categories: individual services (casework) and group services…Group services include six JASA-sponsored programs, five of them co-sponsored with synagogues and the sixth located in a housing project. Two of these programs operate one day a week, three meet twice a week and one is open five days a week. An additional eleven independent programs that have no government funding receive help through the JASA Recreation Program for the Elderly, in the form of teachers, lecturers, entertainers, and trips.
The journal features contributions from each of the Bronx programs in the form of recollections, advice, advertisements, poetry (both in fixed rhyming form and free verse), editorials, reactions to current events, and a report on a visit to the Bronx Zoo. The journal, which might perhaps be considered ephemera, offers a significant amount of information relating to the concerns, beliefs, and desires of those participating in the JASA programs and the elderly in the New York area, including their thoughts on a New York City blackout, crime, poverty, and loneliness. These thoughts were sometimes expressed as poetry (written by Anna Kaminsky):
Answer the phone when it rings.
Hello, my friends, everywhere
Do not fret – do not care
Dry your tears – wipe your eyes
You’re in for a big surprise.
Meet new friends – Join the crowd
Only laughing is allowed.
Have to go – fun’s in store
When you walk through JASA’s door.