Heimish and home-ish: aging, Jewishness and the creation of home at a Toronto assisted-living residence, the Terraces of Baycrest

Gould, Jillian (2009) Heimish and home-ish: aging, Jewishness and the creation of home at a Toronto assisted-living residence, the Terraces of Baycrest. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

This thesis is an ethnographic study of how the elderly residents of the Terraces of Baycrest (the Terraces) - a Jewish assisted-living facility in Toronto - create and recreate tangible and intangible notions of home. While the Terraces is an ethno-specific setting, the diverse resident population incorporates many languages, experiences, beliefs and values. Nevertheless, through their shared cultural identities as Jews, old people, and as residents who live in the same institutional home, they form a unique collective group. This thesis examines the intricate relationships Terraces residents have not only with each other, but also with their current living space. In this instance, I am referring to both the larger home that is the institution, as well as to each individual home where residents actually live. In fact, residents live in both the institution as well as their private apartments. As such, they must constantly negotiate between the dichotomies of their spatial worlds. This thesis demonstrates that while we use ideal notions to talk about our spatial worlds: home and institution, religious and secular, public and private - the real story takes place in between these ideals. Home is not the physical structure, but the way we imbue spaces with value and meaning. Terraces residents achieve this in various ways: with the material objects they use to personalize their private spaces; by sharing and participating in Jewish creative rituals in public and private spaces; by sociability and hospitality; and by shared ethnic and cultural identities. Finally, this thesis suggests that although home is constructed through objects and the creation of meaningful space, home also is a feeling. As such, residents construct home so that they can feel at home - in turn, this allows them to live in comfort and to age well.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/9182
Item ID: 9182
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (leaves 230-243).
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Folklore
Date: 2009
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Ontario--Toronto
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Congregate housing--Ontario--Toronto; Home--Philosophy; Jewish old age homes--Ontario--Toronto; Older Jews--Ontario--Toronto

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