On a breezy and cool September evening, the Chasam Sofer Synagogue could be easily missed. But not on September 10, 2012! The Ohel Bais Ezra residence on 257 East Broadway is home to 11 male adult individuals challenged by developmental disabilities. This past week, the home organized a community barbecue to both express their hakaras hatov to the community and celebrate the birthdays of residents Baruch and Max as well as the very special 80th birthday of Ohel Bais Ezra resident Murray.
With over 150 participants ranging from family members, Ohel staff, government agency representatives, and community members, it was a packed house in a warm atmosphere that was truly magic–and delicious with the BBQ to go!
Jordan Silvestri, residence manager, introduced the Faith Based initiative to the Lower East Side community and emphasized the wonderful integration in the community which was a testimony to both community leaders and the receptivity of so many Shabbos-hosting families.
Rabbi Yeshaya Siff, the spiritual leader of Young Israel Synagogue of Manhattan, set the tone of the importance of community inclusion.
Special guests for the evening, the Rev. Catherine Patterson and Janelle Pfister from OPWDD Faith Based Initiative, spoke about enabling individuals of faith who are challenged with disability to lead fulfilled religious lives and the importance of nurturing community inclusion and participation in all areas of synagogue life.
Ohel Bais Ezra also introduced the new “Let’s be a Host” program to help give communities and others the tools to create a warm and budding religious community for the men of the Lower East Side.
The magic continued with Murray receiving a picture memory book of his very first trip to Israel, his life dream, in celebration and honor of his 80th birthday. Tzivy Reiter, Ohel Bais Ezra director of the men’s home in the Lower East Side, and former Lower East resident, noted, “It was personally gratifying to see my personal and professional life merge with my longstanding friends and neighbors–warmly embracing our individuals in friendship and witnessing again the genuine connections that have been developed.”