By Rochelle Maruch Miller
You’d think Lipa would be content to rest on his laurels as an international superstar. But in addition to being a talented singer, Lipa is a ba’al chesed who has offered musical therapy in hospitals and camps for special-needs children. In the summer of 2014, together with Americare, a leading home health service provider, Lipa launched MusiCare, an innovative musical therapy program.
Unique in concept, the MusiCare program is available to all Americare patients at no cost. Sharing his music and high-level energy with the patients at their homes, Lipa provides a powerful form of music therapy, imbuing the patients with a simchas ha’chaim and enhancing their quality of life.
Lipa approached Americare with the idea of using his professional talents as a musician to offer therapy sessions to those who need it most. Together, they agreed to create a program for Americare patients that would ease their pain and offer a new form of therapy. The program is intended to improve the quality of life for seniors and their families.
On Sunday, December 28, Lipa delivered yet another outstanding performance at a concert sponsored by Americare at the Kingsway Jewish Center in Brooklyn.
“Our goal is to give New Yorkers the opportunity to have a better quality of life through the MusiCare program, and with Lipa’s talents, it has been a phenomenal success,” said Penina Mezei, vice-president of patient relations at Americare. “We are pleased to offer this free concert to share the joy our patients have experienced and to raise awareness about the program. Americare looks forward to continuing to offer these services to those who need it most, including Holocaust survivors.”
In this exclusive interview with the 5TJT, Lipa discusses a variety of topics, including his passion for enhancing the quality of life through music.
RMM: What inspired you to launch MusiCare?
Lipa: I’ve done a lot of work in hospitals and camps for special-needs children. I saw firsthand the benefits of musical therapy; I was able to bring light back into a patient’s life. It’s not only the singing that makes a patient happy–it’s the fact that someone has taken the time to come visit. Sharing the joy of music and easing someone’s suffering is a very fulfilling experience and it’s incredible that Americare recognized the healing power of music. I’m proud to be part of this innovative program.
RMM: How did you bring the program to fruition?
Lipa: Americare is very active in the Jewish community. We realized there was a need there and an opportunity to use my musical talents to offer help to the elderly. So I reached out to Americare and they were very supportive about the idea of using music to increase the quality of life of their patients. From the start, it has been wonderful working with Americare; they were just as excited as I was about the program.
RMM: What is MusiCare’s mission?
Lipa: MusiCare’s mission is simple. We want to bring the joy of music into the homes of Americare’s patients and families to alleviate pain and increase quality of life. We want those in pain to forget about their problems for a while, and we want to create good memories for them and their loved ones. It’s been a phenomenal success so far.
RMM: What makes MusiCare unique?
Lipa: Musical therapy is a service that is not often offered to the elderly, and we wanted to make sure that this type of therapy reaches those who need it the most. MusiCare is different in that the “Care” carries as much emphasis as the “Music.” Each session is a unique, intimate experience right in the patient’s home.
We work to come up with different ways to comfort patients. Not everyone is comfortable when you offer him or her the opportunity to sing. So, sometimes it’s by reading a poem, and other times you say something like, “Hi, I just want to check how you are feeling today.” We adapt to the patient’s needs, whether reading poetry or singing songs from their childhood.
RMM: What a beautiful and sensitive way to bring simchas ha’chaim into the lives of the elderly. What response has the program elicited from participants and their families, as well as from the community-at-large?
Lipa: In the last year alone, we have received tremendously positive feedback from patients. Many of them, as well as their families, have written to us, thanking Americare for bringing joy back into their lives, helping alleviate their pain, and celebrating Jewish culture. I have done several sessions for Holocaust survivors, which is very special. I am always asked to do more sessions.
RMM: Lipa, from a personal perspective, how has the program impacted you?
Lipa: These experiences that I am sharing with the patients have benefited me just as much as it has helped them. It makes me remember that the most important thing in life is to be happy.
RMM: What is the most rewarding aspect of your involvement with the program and its participants?
Lipa: Music is the greatest form of therapy. Bringing joy into the lives of the elderly is incredibly fulfilling. I get calls from families telling me how the program has made their loved ones feel better. That’s rewarding.
RMM: Could you share one of these experiences with our readers?
Lipa: I’d be glad to. We received this beautiful letter from a family whose loved one participated in our program:
“With great appreciation, we’d like to express our sincerest thank you to the organizers of MusiCare; to Avi, for his endless patience in scheduling, to Leah, for her deep empathy, and, of course, to the great artist/entertainer, Lipa! Surpassing his fantastic talent is his huge golden heart and passion to give simcha to others, enabling them to forge ahead, despite their challenges.
“Our dear mother, an Auschwitz survivor, has been an active member of the Boro Park community for 65 years. Although the status of her health remains compromised, her love of Yiddishkeit and bitachon in Hashem has never ebbed. On the contrary, it shines through even brighter, like a shining star in the darkest of night, empowering her spirit.
“At this point in life, the only activity that resonates joy is music and song. Lipa’s soft singing and brilliant lyrics embodied with the concepts of bitachon and Mashiach, which are the essence of our mother, truly resonated within her. The smile on her face and her voluntary participation as he performed, gave testimony to that.
“As for us, her children, we can’t thank you enough for a most memorable experience shared with our mother at her bedside, providing memories to last a lifetime.
“We salute Mr. Elly Kleinman for his keen vision, gracious generosity, and thoughtfulness on behalf of the least vocal but most honorable segment of Klal Yisrael. May he be rewarded from the One Above accordingly.”
With gratitude and admiration,
The Braun Family of Boro Park
RMM: That letter certainly speaks volumes. Now that the program has become such a success, what are your long-term goals for MusiCare?
Lipa: We just started the program and we’ve already got about 15 participants. We are planning to expand it–to help make the lives of the elderly better. Americare wants to find more and more ways to make people happy, and to teach others how to do the same. We hope to keep expanding MusiCare into the future.
RMM: Lipa, continued hatzlachah in all your endeavors and your work on behalf of Klal Yisrael. What message would you like to convey to our readers?
Lipa: The healing power of music cannot be underestimated. Our hope is that MusiCare will continue to expand to give patients a more fulfilling existence. And don’t hesitate to contact us if you or your loved ones could benefit from the program. It’s an incredibly thrilling experience for everyone involved.
To obtain additional information about MusiCare, please call 800-704-4341.