A resident at the Grandell Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Long Beach, Mrs. Steinberg is reportedly the oldest living Jew in the world, the eighth oldest living person in the United States and the oldest living resident in New York.
One of just 67 supercentenarians whose age has been verified by the Gerontology Research Group, Mrs. Steinberg is also one of twelve Grandell residents who have been privileged to celebrate their hundredth birthday.
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Mrs. Steinberg came to the United States at age 23, brought over from Kishinev by a wealthy uncle, along with her sisters Sara and Rose Karfunkel. Upon their arrival in America, the sisters changed their family name to Garfunkel and Mrs. Steinberg, possibly the last survivor of the Kishinev pogrom of 1903, settled in Brooklyn.
She met her husband Philip, who also hailed from Kishinev through the Kishinev Society and the couple raised their two children at 6309 23rd Avenue in Bensonhurst. Philip Steinberg, who worked as a jeweler on Fulton Street, died in 1967.
Mrs. Steinberg lived in Bensonhurst for a total of 72 years, finally deciding to relocate to Grandell in 2004 so that she would not become a burden to her children.
“You never know if being in a heimishe nursing home, that is under strict rabbinical supervision and is 100 percent kosher could have given her the zechus for her incredible arichus yomim,” Grandell administrator Moishe Heller told VIN News.
Mrs. Steinberg was in high spirits today for her birthday, clad in a purple dress and a sweater she made for herself, adorned with a cameo. Mrs. Steinberg’s insisted on having her hair professionally done in honor of the momentous occasion.
“A girl stays a girl even at 114,” joked Heller.
The three hour bash, which began at 3 PM this afternoon featured music, blue and gold balloons, sushi, fruit platters, hors d’oeuvres, pink cupcakes, cookies and several bottles of liquor, giving participants the opportunity to make a l’chaim in honor of the guest of honor.
A large white birthday cake adorned with pink and lavender flowers and a picture of Mrs. Steinberg took center stage only to the birthday girl who was seated on an elaborately upholstered white throne. The former seamstress, grandmother of four and great-grandmother of seven was in high spirits chatting happily with both visitors and the many members of the media who were on hand to record the milestone event.
Among those in attendance were many of Mrs. Steinberg’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and those family members who couldn’t come to Long Beach today are planning to visit the family matriarch over the course of the week.
Also present were Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, congressional hopeful Bruce Blakeman, Councilwoman Eileen Goggin, Councilwoman Fran Adelson and Assemblyman Harvey Wiesenberg, with Senator Dean Skelos sending a proclamation honoring Mrs. Steinberg.
Youngsters from several schools including Torah Academy for Girls in Far Rockaway, Shulamith School for Girls in Cedarhurst, Yeshiva Ketana of Long Island and Yeshiva University High School for Girls in Hollis came to Grandell to celebrate Mrs. Steinberg.
A delegation of over a dozen girls from the Hebrew Academy of Long Beach, weekly visitors who go to school just down the block from Grandell, were also present for today’s festivities, lining the walkway as the guest of honor was wheeled into the gala celebration, showering her with flower petals and singing both Happy Birthday and Yaakov Shwekey’s Eishes Chayil.
“The girls love visiting the residents,” said Mrs. Perel Rauch, a sixth through eighth grade teach at HALB, who also heads the school’s Bikur Cholim Club. “They often visit Mrs. Steinberg and speak to her, and in amazement, they watch her keep busy with her knitting. They find it truly wondrous that Mrs. Steinberg is still such a capable person despite her age.”
“We are thrilled to be able to celebrate yet another birthday with Mrs. Steinberg and her family and happy that more of our students will be able to participate in such a momentous occasion,” added Mrs. Yael Axelrod, director of student life at HALB.