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Ages of Excellence Benefits A Cause Close To Kershenbaum

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Providing care for those in need goes beyond conventional philanthropy in the Jewish faith – it’s a duty instilled in its people at an early age. 

“We are taught to not only honor our parents, but their parents as well,” said Village Shalom board member, Bruce Kershenbaum. “It’s something I recall from my Hebrew school days.” 

Bruce and Eileen Kershenbaum will chair Village Shalom’s Ages of Excellence Celebration on Oct. 22. This will be the seventh consecutive year for the event that benefits Village Shalom’s financial assistance program. For Kershenbaum, it’s a cause that’s held special meaning for the majority of his life. 

“My grandfather was a resident of Shalom Geriatric Center, and I have memories of chatting with him and other residents when I was as young as 12 years old,” Kershenbaum recalled. “My 1976 Eagle Scout project was to organize a volunteer group to help out at Shalom Geriatric. We even performed a variety review for the residents.” 

Kershenbaum first joined the board of directors in 1993 and has served in a number of officer positions for Shalom Geriatric and Village Shalom since. He was involved in negotiating the sale of Shalom Geriatric Center as well as the acquisition of the 40-acre tract of land now partially occupied by Village Shalom. 

“Being associated with Village Shalom and Shalom Geriatric Center has been an unbelievably valuable experience for me – one that has been made so much more meaningful thanks to the other board members and the great staff all dedicated to a singular mission.” 

Bruce Kershenbaum (right) shares a laugh with Village Shalom resident, Larry Blumenthal. Kershenbaum and his wife, Eileen, will chair this year’s Ages of Excellence Celebration – Village Shalom’s annual fundraising event to benefit its financial assistance program. 

Financial assistance has been a key component of the organization’s mission from the start. Village Shalom traces its roots back to 1902, when a group of Orthodox Jews met in a Kansas City storeroom to discuss the need to care for the community’s elderly population – particularly a contingent of Eastern European immigrants with limited family support and financial resources. Ten years later, the Moshav Zkeinim Home for the Aged Society was established “for the object and purpose of receiving, treating, and caring for all aged persons of Jewish nationality who cannot afford to pay for such care and to provide a suitable home for them.” 

Today, Village Shalom commits more than $1.3 million each year in resident financial assistance. These funds will provide more than 10,500 days of service in 2015 alone.  The assistance Village Shalom provides is dependent on support from the community – particularly from its partners at the Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City, the Jewish Heritage Foundation, the Jewish Community Foundation, the Menorah Legacy Foundation, various private foundations and individual donors. 

The Ages of Excellence Celebration was established in 2009 as a unique way to bring the community together for an enjoyable evening in support of the financial assistance program. The event features nationally recognized speakers and a buffet-style dinner to provide a relaxed, social setting. Previous years’ speakers have included Bob Woodward, Maureen Dowd and Rick Reilly.   

“The proceeds from Ages of Excellence directly impact the lives of community members who rely on Village Shalom. Eileen and I are honored to be a part of it, and look forward to seeing a strong showing on the 22nd,” said Kershenbaum. 

This year’s Ages of Excellence Celebration will take place on Thursday, Oct. 22 at the Overland Park Sheraton. Bloomberg TV’s With All Due Respect co-hosts Mark Halperin and John Heilemann are the featured guest speakers. KCUR’s Steve Kraske will serve as the event’s emcee. Tickets for the presentation and dessert reception are available for as little as $100. General and sponsorship information can be found at www.VillageShalom.org/Ages