By Richard Zuker
At Tamir’s annual third seder, Danny Grinfeld, a 22-year-old with autism, kicked off proceedings with a spirited rendition of “O Canada.” More than 70 participants sang along with Danny and were inspired by his musical talent and his obvious passion for the national anthem. Another star turn was Claire and Edith Zloten, sisters in their 70s, who recited with great pride the four questions in Yiddish, as taught to them by their grandmother when they were children. They have sung at Tamir seders for the past 17 years.
As the sole Jewish organization of 16 developmental services agencies in Ottawa funded by the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS), our mission is to ensure that our participants are well cared for and have opportunities to thrive as full citizens within our Jewish community and the community at large.
Tamir continues to provide opportunities for our participants to learn and excel. In the spring of 2018, 12 Tamir participants and eight staff travelled to Israel as part of the Partnership 2Gether program. The trip began with three days of engagement with sister developmental service organizations in the Kiryat Shmona area, followed by seven days of travel elsewhere in the country.
“The trip was a dream come true,” said Tamir participant Debbie Wasserman.
Tamir staged our first-ever fashion show involving Tamir participants, professional models, community leaders, and local celebrities strutting their stuff on the runway at the Canadian War Museum to a sellout crowd. We thank the numerous fashion enterprises and our community for their overwhelming support. Tamir is planning a bigger and better fashion show sequel on November 4 in the Great Hall of the Canadian Museum of History. Don’t miss it!
In September of last year, the Jewish Federation of Ottawa held the first ever lip-sync battle as part of the Annual Campaign kickoff at which Tamir won the coveted Golden Challah People’s Choice Award. Congratulations Tamir participants and yasher koach to Federation for organizing such a wonderful event.
Joel Yan, our Judaic adviser, has created an exciting Judaic program over the past few years. In February, as part of Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month, Joel collaborated with Rabbi Eytan Kenter to organize a Kehillat Beth Israel Shabbat morning service led in large part by Tamir participants. Tamir’s Neshama Choir, directed by Nigel Harris, continues to inspire with performances at Tamir events and throughout the city.
Last month, Tamir partnered with Federation, Jewish Family Services, and the new Jewish Ottawa Inclusion Network (JOIN) in hosting “Pushing the Boundaries”, a conference focused on improving inclusion in the Ottawa Jewish community. The conference was a great success and the steering committee is developing next steps.
Tamir faces a number of challenges including a cohort of participants who are aging and require higher levels of care, and an upcoming generation of children with complex needs. It is to meet these and other challenges that we are continuing to work on our plans for the Integrated Living Centre (ILC).
A sincere thank you to all those who support Tamir: the Board, dedicated staff, volunteers, partners, our generous donors, and MCCSS. Together, we will continue to ensure that people like Danny, Claire, and Edith live every day with dignity and respect as integral members of our community.