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Betraying trust and Jewish Values

Dr. Miriam Jacobs is one of three original residents still living in The Villas at Village Shalom.

(Editor's Note: With the major expansion and repositioning project at Village Shalom currently projected to begin in early spring of 2017, the daughter of one of the original residents of The Villas feels her mother will be negatively impacted by the construction and urges Village Shalom to change its plans in the letter below. Village Shalom maintains its plan is to the benefit of all the residents.)

Imagine building a perfect retirement home on a beautiful sunny corner lot. You selected this lot for its peaceful view of nature. You spend your days gardening and growing English roses. Time passes and your health declines. At age 87, you are now confined to your home, unable to go out into the sun due to a chronic illness. However, you are still able to enjoy the view from your sunroom window — watching the seasons change as you gaze at grassy berms and trees in the distance.

Now imagine that after 15 years of living in and contributing to your neighborhood, you discover that plans to build an enormous structure just outside your window are well underway, already a year and a half in the making. 

The proposed structure, more than twice as wide and three times as high as your home, will be situated in such a way that the view from your sunroom will only be the side of a building. Walls and windows. No more grassy berms and trees; shadow instead of sunlight. Confined to your home, the placement and design of this building affects you more than any other resident of this community. The view, which is so critical to your existing quality of life will be gone. Remarkably, no one saw fit to come and talk to you about it.

This is the fate that Village Shalom has decreed for my mother. Village Shalom, the senior living community whose stated mission is “to nurture the physical, emotional, social and spiritual well-being of every individual whom we are privileged to serve” has not included those whose quality of life would be severely and negatively impacted, like my mother, as they were preparing their expansion plans.

I ask the members of the Jewish community as well as the Kansas City community at large, is this an act of loving kindness? Is this acting justly toward an elderly resident, one of three original Village Shalom villa residents remaining? Somewhere in all of this planning my mother’s needs were missed. It should be understood that the needs of current residents should be honored. The intrinsic right to sunlight and quiet should be honored. The residents’ needs cannot be blatantly disregarded. Village Shalom’s leadership refuses to accept responsibility, preferring to use the action words “can’t” and “won’t” as opposed to actually cooperating. A caring leadership would work to provide a modified design which ensures the safety, health and sanctity of all of its residents. Karen Glickstein, chair of the board of directors of Village Shalom stated for the June 2 issue of the Jewish Chronicle (Village Shalom launches major expansion), “We take our mission and the well-being of every individual we serve very seriously.” Yet, they have refused to share their plans or to engage in meaningful dialogue to modify the existing design of this building. Instead, it was suggested that my chronically ill mother should move.  Shame on you, Village Shalom. Shame, shame, shame.

My mother’s life hangs in the balance. Will Village Shalom do the right thing by redesigning or repositioning this building or will they ignore the needs of one of their oldest residents? I ask you to think long and hard before supporting the expansion of a community that won’t consider the needs of its current residents. Imagine if this were your mother.