'A sad day for Birmingham Jewry' as communal care home is put up for sale

Under a quarter of residents of Andrew Cohen House are Jewish. Home's leaders considering offers from other care providers


Birmingham Jewish Community Care is selling its residential home, Andrew Cohen House, in the wake of economic pressures and declining Jewish occupancy.

BJCC chief executive Sharon Grey told the JC on Wednesday that just 13 of the home’s 59 current residents are Jewish.

“The biggest inflationary crisis the country has seen in four decades, lower numbers of self-funders and a significant price gap between funded care placements and the real cost of care have challenged the financial viability of the charity.”

Ms Grey — who is also the home’s registered manager — added that the decision to sell had been “very difficult. However, it is the only way to ensure that BJCC can survive in the long term, with its social work team and drop-in services continuing to support the Jewish community within the West Midlands”.

There had been “a great deal of interest” from other care providers in taking over the home and BJCC was considering offers from some “very reputable” organisations. “We have every reason to feel confident it should continue as a thriving care home, provided by someone else.”

Residents, relatives and staff were updated about the situation on Tuesday and Ms Grey said many residents had indicated they would stay on under new ownership.

Rising kosher food costs and the fall in Jewish numbers meant that going forward, the home would only offer kosher food on request from Jewish residents.

Although it would be prepared in a kosher kitchen, the home would no longer be supervised. “We do, however, have longstanding catering staff who are well versed in kosher practices and will competently produce kosher meals as required.”

The decision to sell was “a sad day for Birmingham Jewry”, said Rabbi Yossi Jacobs, minister of the city’s largest Orthodox congregation, Singers Hill. “Until now, we’ve encouraged everyone to go to Andrew Cohen House.

“Now we have to take what we have and make the best of it.” That would include supporting community members who chose to use other residential care providers.

He paid tribute of the efforts of the trustees to find the best solution for the provision of future welfare services to Birmingham Jewry.

Rabbi Jacobs’ shul currently serves around 450 people and he says it has “managed to maintain numbers somewhat” during his 18 years with the congregation.

In fact, Singers Hill has welcomed 27 new members over the past few years, some coming to Birmingham for work, others to retire.

There were also non-members who attended activities at his shul - “pay as you go Judaism”, as he termed it.

But the sale of Andrew Cohen House demonstrated “that you have to stay committed to the community if you want to retain the infrastructure”.

Meanwhile, Ms Grey stressed that BJCC remained “committed to putting in place new services and ensuring support and care that is Jewish”.

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