Etta at OHEL Dedicates Fourth Group Home
By: Alisa Roberts
Published in The Jewish Home, October 17, 2013
On October 6th, Etta at OHEL dedicated their fourth group home. With the opening of the Aaron Bloom Home, located in North Hollywood, Etta at OHEL now provides services for 24 residents with developmental disabilities. The Aaron Bloom that this home was named for was, along with his wife Rickey, one of the founders of the Etta Israel Center. While he is no longer with us, all of his children and grandchildren were in attendance, including Richard Bloom, Assembly Member for the 50th district in California.
Also in attendance were Etta at OHEL home residents, parents of residents, community members, and David Mandel and Amy Berig, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Administrator Officer of OHEL Childrenâ€™s Home and Family Services. Mr. Mandel and Mrs. Berig came in from the East Coast to attend the celebration and extend their support for Etta at OHEL, who had merged with OHEL Childrenâ€™s Home and Family Services last year.
Dr. Michael Held, Executive Director of Etta at OHEL, welcomed everyone and spoke about what a milestone this opening was. The Etta homes are the only such homes in Los Angeles that are entirely kosher. All four homes are located in the Valley, where the residents have been embraced by the community, attending shul services and receiving invitations for Shabbos meals. Two residents, Max Stein and Seth Katz, accompanied by Josh Taff, the Director of Outreach and Programming, spoke about how much they love living in the group home. When asked, â€śWhat do you like best about living in the home?â€ť Seth answered, â€śI like my friend Max.â€ť
Elliott and Debbie Fils, parents of a resident, shared what an incredible journey it has been for their son to move out of their home and become independent. They spoke about how meaningful it is to see him with his own friends and social life, now on equal ground with his sister, who is neurotypical. â€śParents worry about their children both when they soar and when they stumble. Etta is there for them for both,â€ť said Elliott.
Assemblymember Richard Bloom, son of Aaron Bloom, spoke next. He shared memories of his father, and discussed the importance of these homes. Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, representing the 46th District â€“ the district where the homes are located â€“ also spoke. He emphasized what it means for the community to have these homes. Bruce Bloom, also a son of Aaron Bloom, closed the ceremony. In a very emotional speech, he talked about how much this work meant to his parents and to Mrs. Etta Israel, who had been one of the original special education teachers in Jewish schools in Los Angeles in the 1960s and whose passion for special needs individuals led to the founding of the Etta Israel Center, and ultimately Etta at OHEL.Â