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For decades, and with great thanks to our sponsors, Lea and Sammy Trencher, Ohel has been hosting large and festive Chanukah parties for clients, staff and family guests. As the highlight of the entire year, the party brings an abundance of food (think mountains of latkes & donuts), music (envision Shloime Dachs performing with Ohel clients), entertainment (picture magicians, other live performances and more) and gift giving to the delight of Ohel’s clients and guests. Another joy of the season has been Ohel’s well-known Chanukah Gift Drive with participation from 200+ schools, synagogues and organizations across the tri-state area. This Chanukah initiative has ensured that every Ohel individual receives an age-appropriate holiday gift.
Isolation, quarantine, masks, social distancing, red zones, are part of everyone’s reality during the pandemic. With Chanukah around the corner, Ohel faced a huge conundrum.How is Ohel going to light up the lives of the hundreds of children and adults with developmental and psychiatric disabilities, women and children who live in Ohel’s domestic violence shelters, foster children and so many community members for whom Ohel is their lifeline?
With innovation, creativity and commitment, Ohel’s team of devoted professionalsdecided to adapt the successful Chanukah programming of the past to the need for a safe, yet joyous present. Fortunately, the Trencher family agreed to serve once again as the major sponsor of Chanukah at Ohel. They, too, said there has to be a way to share Chanukah happiness and bring light to the Ohel family.
So, Ohel brought anepic Chanukahto hundreds!
Taking the celebratory quarantine drive-by to a new level, the party was delivered to the individuals living in Ohel residences. With the support of the Lea and Sammy Trencher, Shloime Dachs, a dedicated Ohel board member who has often performed at Ohel’s Chanukah parties and is beloved by Ohel clients, boarded theOhel Chanukah Float Celebration, a traveling concert that visited more than a dozen residences over two days. As the parade of cars pulled up to each residence, Shloime Dachs broke into song atop the float. Delighted individuals with developmental disabilities rushed outside to dance and clap to the holiday songs. And Ohel staff delivered sufganiyot and gifts to all.
In-person gift drives weren’t possible this year, but schools and shuls still managed to collect the gifts so desperately needed this year. Thousands more visited Ohel’s new online gift catalog to purchase gifts specially requested by the individuals in Ohel’s care. https://giftcatalog.ohelfamily.org/.
And, separately, with the goal of brightening an additional night of Chanukah, Ohel delivered a “Party in a Box.” Michael Schick, a long-time friend of Ohel and caterer par excellence of Ohel’s Annual Gala, came to the rescue. Individuals living in an Ohel residence, foster children and their foster families, women and children living in Ohel’s Domestic Violence Shelter, and other clients weretreated to a‘Make-your-own Pizza Party’, consisting of everything needed to make a delectable pizza with all the toppings, as well as ready-made latkes, donuts, drinks and festive party goods.
Ohel is fortunate to have the following sponsors help make these magical moments happen this year: Lea and Sammy Trencher and family, Shloime Dachs Orchestra, Jerry & Barbara Weissman, Chani and Jay Kestenbaum and others.
Ohel rocked Chanukah this year. If you’d like to know more about how to volunteer or participate in future Ohel efforts, please contact Kaila Lasky, Coordinator of Volunteer Services at 347 786 0788 or email at Kaila_lasky@ohelfamily.org.
About Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services
For more than 50 years, Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services has provided a safe haven for those suffering in our community. Starting as a foster care provider for Jewish families in the New York metropolitan area, today Ohel cares for more than 20,000 individuals from all communities through a broad range of programs including mental health services, housing, eldercare, respite for parents with a child with disabilities, outpatient counseling for everyday people with everyday problems, and trauma resources for communities in New York and across the nation. www.ohelfamily.org