Lena and Jussi came to the Bay Area in 1966 from Sweden, where Lena was born and where Jussi came to study engineering at the university level. Jussi was born in Hungary, where he and his family survived the Holocaust. Jussi decided to leave Hungary after the Hungarian Revolution was crushed in 1956. Jussi’s family had owned bakeries in Budapest prior to the revolution, but the communists nationalized all the businesses as one of many controlling measures after World War II.
Lena was raised as a non-Jew but converted to Judaism after she and Jussi got married in 1966. They joined Cong. Beth David upon their arrival in the South Bay, and became active in JCC life well before the Silicon Valley JCC became the APJCC in 1973.
Today, Lena and Jussi are both very active in the APJCC, each in their own way. Lena swims in the pool, including during the cold, wet weather months, and she plays Mah Jongg regularly. Jussi attends the Silicon Valley Holocaust Survivor Association brunches, works out in the gym three to four times every week, comes to concerts here, and attends the monthly Senior Kabbalat Shabbat lunches, for which Lena often joins with him.
Lena says, “I enjoy meeting people here I had not known before. I feel connected with the community, and I think it’s great that about half the people who come to APJCC are not Jewish.” She continues, “Swimming is very good for me because moving in the water is good for my knees. And, when I have not been in the pool for a while, the instructors notice and ask me where I’ve been.”
Jussi not only comes to the APJCC to work out, he gets here even before the doors open at 5 a.m. “There are several of us who like to meet up and talk before the doors open at 5,” he says. “I meet so many people and there are so many different programs – I can’t keep up with all of them. The APJCC is a fantastic place, and it’s a bargain.”
Lena and Jussi participate in the Seniors Day Trip Excursions, run by Fagie Rosen. The Seniors Excursions are made possible, in part, by an anonymous donor, as are all of the programs at APJCC for Older Adults.
Lena and Jussi are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this summer (2016), along with the 50th anniversary of their being in the Bay Area. They are grateful for each other, and for the connection to Jewish life and the Jewish community, they have for themselves and their daughter and 11-year-old grand-daughter, who also are APJCC members.