web analytics
May 29, 2015 / 11 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Otsar: Unlocking the Hidden Treasures Within

Eller-062113-Otsar-Logo

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

About the Author: Sandy Eller is a freelance writer who writes for numerous websites, newspapers, magazines and many private clients. She can be contacted at sandyeller1@gmail.com.


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.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

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

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
What's happened to NYC's Celebrate Israel Parade?
Israel Rejects as ‘False’ UJA Federation’s Claims about Israel Parade ‘Inclusion’
Latest Indepth Stories
Keeping-Jerusalem

For a peace treaty with the PA, half the Israeli public would agree to divide the Jerusalem

As for the president’s new, softer tone vis-à-vis Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israel, this is most likely being driven by the results of the recent Israeli election.

What especially appeals to us is his grand – some critics would say extravagant –view of what the borders of Israel should look like.

There was something else of great importance in play – something we would have liked to see him take into account before deciding to stand with the boycotters.

The establishment of Hebrew University was a cause much beloved to Einstein who in 1923, during what would be his only trip to Eretz Yisrael, delivered the university’s inaugural lecture on Har Hatzofim (Mt. Scopus) and, discussing the theory of relativity, spoke the first few sentences of his address in Hebrew.

The Golden Square wanted Germany to destroy the British and Jewish presence in their country. The Third Reich craved what was beneath the ground – oil.

Ida Nudel’s account of how the Soviets persecuted and punished her was far worse than imagined.

Swim4Sadna is an annual event benefiting Sadna, an integrative special-ed community in Gush Etzion

Prof. Wistrich, was THE foremost historian of anti-Semitism; committed spokesman & advocate of Jewry

Jewish Voices for Peace’s 2015 Haggadah is a blatant anti-Israel screed crying, “L’chayim to BDS!”

On his shloshim, I want to discuss a term I’ve heard countless times about Rav Aharon: Gedol HaDor

After obsequious claims of devotion to Israel, Obama took to criticizing Israel on peace process

Mr. Obama, Israeli voters have democratically chosen to apply Israeli sovereignty over Judea&Samaria

Netanyahu so disdains Shaked’s appointment he completely ignored her after the swearing-in ceremony

More Articles from Sandy Eller
Justin Zemser, a”h

“…his neshamah reached out to us to have the zechus of Torah learning to take with him on his final journey.”

Food-Talk---Eller-logo

It’s hard not to be intrigued by recipes with names like Thanksgiving Stuffing Soup, Braised Chicken with Rhubarb Gravy and Vidalia Onion Fritters with Sambal Yogurt Dip.

A graduate of Rhode Island’s Johnson & Wales College of Culinary Arts, the very personable Massin came to NoBo with both a solid education and years of experience at Mike’s Bistro and The Prime Grill.

For all their deliciousness, frozen beverages do not stand the test of time well, as any ice or frozen fruit thickening your drink will melt into a watery mess.

“People who never buy cookbooks are getting this one,” said Victoria. “They read it cover to cover and find it so interesting.”

It goes without saying that when it comes to your kids, safety is always your number one priority.

While we are all accustomed to the occasional recipe substitutions – swapping milk for creamer, applesauce for oil – gluten-free cooking is a whole different ballgame.

Kitchen surfing is a unique concept that brings professional chefs to your home to prepare a meal in your own kitchen.

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: