Reha Friedman, 85, lives alone in her Silver Spring apartment, is handicapped visually and uses a cane because of severe arthritis in her legs. She cannot leave home without help.

Sam Levitz, 73, of Rockville, once worked for a supermarket delicatessen department. Now he cannot climb steps because of a degenerative arthritic hip.

Friedman and Levitz are among the 22 participants in the Jewish Senior Day Care Program that began last April. It is sponsored by the Jewish Council for the Aging in cooperation with the Hebrew home located at 6121 Montrose Rd., Rockville.

The program is "the best thing to happen to a bunch of old people." Friedman said "Old people are alone so much that life isn't worth anything. I've been going to the center since the week it started in April. I go twice a week and think it's terrific," she said.

The program is designed to meet social and rehabilitative needs of older people, specifically those whose mental or physical condition has limited their mobility.

Participants spend at least two days a week at the center according to program director Kay Mehlferher, 46, a registered nurse with 12 years of geriatric nursing experience.

Many of our participants felt they were burdens on their family. All have some degree of physical impairment such as a heart condition, deafness or severe arthritis. Most live with their family and needed the separation. Their families also needed a rest," he said.

The cost of the program is $16 a day, and those who cannot afford the full fee receive scholarship help. Minibuses and a specially equipped van transport program participants at a round-trip charge of $2.50 per day.

Participants spend from five to six hours each day at the center.

"We get there around 10 a.m. and have our snack of juice and cookies. Then we have a discussion on the topics of the day or on religion. Afterward, we do some work like drawing, playing bingo or making things. Lunch is at noon and in the afternoon we see a show, a movie, or listen to a speaker. The remainder of the time is spent on crafts, weaving baskets or whatever. We're busy minute using our hands and our minds," Friedman said.

Those who are unable to get into a bathtub are helped into stall showers by aids who also help with dressing and washing hair.

Sarah Stein, 72, of Rockville describes the program as "a Garden of Eden for older folks because each person is treated so nice."