web analytics
April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Otsar: Unlocking the Hidden Treasures Within

Eller-062113-Otsar-Logo

Share Button

Growing up in the 1970′s, I remember hearing the whispered words from friends and neighbors in shul.

“She has a brother,” the words would be said with a knowing look.

“He doesn’t live with the family, he is in a…,” another furtive glance to make sure no one was listening. “A home.”

Just forty years ago, disabled children were kept hidden from sight and were the subjects of hushed conversation. All that changed when a few brave parents got together to share their experiences and support each other. Rabbi Manfred Gans, spiritual leader of Congregation Machane Chodosh in Forest Hills and the father of a child with Down Syndrome, placed an ad in The Jewish Press, inviting parents of children with Down Syndrome to join him for a meeting.

“Each one thought they were the only ones in their situation because you never saw these kids out on the street,” Gwen Bloom, Director of Communications for Otsar Family Services, told The Jewish Press. “The first meeting attracted about forty people. The second drew over one hundred.”

The parent group grew into Otsar Family Services, officially launched in 1980 in order to provide support, and later programs and services for religious Jewish children with developmental disabilities.

“It was just a tiny office on Ocean Avenue, created to help parents, give them a listening ear and maybe find some programs for them,” explained Bloom, who has been with Otsar for twenty two years. “If you could refer a parent to a good doctor who could deal with their child’s needs, a good dentist, that was something useful.”

While there were services available at the time for the developmentally disabled, none met the unique needs of the Jewish community.

“Because there was no program that catered to Jewish children, these kids went to public schools and aside from not having kosher food available and learning all about Christmas, they were off every Sunday and every legal holiday, creating a tremendous hardship for their families, particularly working parents,” said Bloom. “There were respite programs for parents, but they offered very few days per year.”

Incorporating the assistance of leading professionals, Otsar created a program tailored to the specific needs of the Jewish community. While as a 501(c)(3) Otsar was a non-sectarian program and was not allowed to teach religion, the program was permitted to teach Jewish culture, finally offering the developmentally disabled a program that met their needs.

“The program was a huge success and, I believe, the first program of this type,” reported Bloom.

True to its name, Otsar soon became a valuable ally for parents who hoped to help their children make the most of their G-d given gifts, with a devoted group of professionals who worked closely with each and every client.

“Otsar’s staff believes in the value and worth of each individual, regardless of their abilities or disabilities,” explained Chashi Brand, Otsar’s Assistant Executive Director. “We are dedicated to helping our treasures live full and rewarding lives and to ultimately become active and accepted members of the community. Otsar makes a difference, one family at a time. At every age and every stage Otsar is there for families that need our assistance.”

Over the years, Otsar has evolved to meet the growing needs of the developmentally disabled community and their families and now serves over 400 families with a wide range of programs. Otsar’s clients range in age from infants who receive services in their own home, to senior citizens in their eighties.

“We want people to know that no matter what the age, we are here for them,” said Bloom.

Otsar’s Sunday and School Holiday program is one of the largest in New York City, with an organized, activity filled, stimulating program to keep children occupied. With classes including gym, baking, Movement in Motion and meticulously planned trips, children are entertained and enriched in a safe environment. Recent Sunday activities have included a visit from a magician/dentist as well as an excursion to the Great Parade in Crown Heights on Lag B’Omer.

The Sunday and School Holiday program benefits not just its one hundred and six participants but their families as well.

“Parents have a Sunday to spend with their other kids who also need their attention,” explained Bloom

Share Button

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

No Responses to “Otsar: Unlocking the Hidden Treasures Within”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Arrival of self-declared mayor of Slaviansk at town's administrative offices in eastern Ukraine.
Israeli-American Journalist Held Hostage in Ukraine
Latest Indepth Stories
Al-Aksa Mosque was claimed to be the site from which Mohammed ascended to Heaven, but it was built nearly 50 years after Mohammed died.

Jerusalem only seems important in the Islamic world when non-Muslims control or capture the city.

Israeli police enter the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City to disperse stone-throwing Palestinian protesters.

Jordan’s king is adding fuel to the fire on the Temple Mount, blaming Israel for violence by Muslim Arab rioters.

Imam Suhail Webb who boasted his Muslim community persuaded Brandeis President Fred Lawrence to withdraw an invitation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

At Brandeis, much of what counts as Western civilization got cold feet and won’t stand with Hirsi Ali.

Text of anti-Semitic flyer distributed to Jews in Donetsk, Ukraine on Passover 2014.

But the lesson from this meditation is that hidden behind the anti-semitic act is the greatest light.

As support of their messianic dream, Halevi and Antepli approve dishonoring Hirsi Ali as a ‘renegade.’

If itis a mitzva to eat matza all Pesach, then why is there no berakha attached to it?

When we are united with unconditional love, no stone will be raised against us by our enemies.

The reporter simply reports the news, but it is greater to be inspired to better the situation.

The Big Bang theory marked the scientific community’s first sense of the universe having a beginning.

Freeing convicted murderers returns the status of Jewish existence to something less than sanctified.

“The bigger they are the harder they fall” describes what God had in mind for Olmert.

We, soldiers of the IDF, who stand guard over the people and the land, fulfill the hopes of the millions of Jewish people across the generations who sought freedom.

How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine?

Jews have brought the baggage of the galut (exile) mentality to the modern state of Israel.

The Haggadah is an instruction manual on how to survive as strangers in strange lands.

More Articles from Sandy Eller
Sandy-Eller-Consumer-logo

As much as I am all for economical meals, Pesach is definitely the time of year when I find myself making more roasts.

A-Night-Out-logo

Deciding on your order is no small task at The Purple Pear. The menu is a whopping eight pages long and as if that wasn’t long enough, there is an additional three-page sushi menu.

Well, in the good news department, if you have kids, your dreams are about to come true. As veteran cookbook author Tamar Ansh so capably illustrates in her 96-page, kid-friendly volume titled Let My Children Cook!, your progeny can be a valuable asset when Pesach rolls around when time is at a minimum and the cooking demands are sky high.

What do you do with fruit that has turned just a little soft and squishy and that no one in your household wants to eat?

The name La Brochette is a nod to Cohen’s Middle Eastern roots, alluding to a shish kabob skewer, but the restaurant is first and foremost a French steakhouse, albeit one with a dazzling sushi menu.

While there are those who prefer holding a printed recipe in their hands, Estee has found that a cooking website has many advantages. Aside from the obvious cost factor and the ability to fix the rare mistakes, websites have a far greater ability to offer feedback.

I take all my challah ingredients, throw them in the breadmaker, turn on the machine and walk out of my kitchen. Ninety minutes later, I have a gorgeous batch of challah dough with no work and practically no mess to clean up.

Whether you are a repeat customer or a first time visitor, from the moment you enter Orchidea you are treated like family. Only better.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles/otsar-unlocking-the-hidden-treasures-within/2013/06/21/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: