In the same vein as other celebrations of 13 years, the Ezra Center 13th Anniversary Gala on June 6 at the Anaheim Park Hotel had a little of everything – good food, good entertainment, and a chance to honor some good people. From the welcoming words of president Bob Wilkoff to the rich, full voice of Cantor Nancy Linder of Temple Beth David, the afternoon was a feel-good event for the seniors who participate in Ezra Center programs and their friends throughout the community.
Honoree Sylvia Oster is a real character. A founding member of the Ezra Center, a member of its bard of directors, and a 50-year member of Temple Beth Emet, she worked at Temple Beth Emet Preschool and then the Mardan School for 35 years before discovering a different kind of calling. The petite and personable Oster auditioned for and got a job in the character department at Disneyland. She has held that position for 13 years.
Oster has secured Community Grants from Disneyland to help the Ezra Center’s mission of serving seniors in the North Orange County community. Making sure the Ezra Center is a password at Disneyland, she has managed to obtain $5,000 grants from Disneyland to help the organization every year. In fact, in recognition of Oster’s honor, Disneyland awarded a special “Ears to You” grant to the Ezra Center.
“The highest reward for a person’s work is not what he gets for it, but the person he becomes because of it,” Oster said in accepting the award.
Terri Moses and the Jewish Family Service were honored for bringing the JFS to North Orange County. According to Alan Zamosky, CEO of the Jewish Family Service, a presentation he gave at the Ezra Center just after he arrived in Orange County convinced him that JFS services were needed in North Orange County.
“Through Terri’s work we have done that, and I promise that we will do all we can to continue it,” he said.
A partnership between the Ezra Center and JFS brings a JFS staff member to Ezra on Mondays and Thursdays, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for consultations. Before having this field office, North Orange County Jews had to go to Irvine, or the JFS staff had to travel to member homes. In addition JFS provides transportation to the Ezra Center and the synagogues for those unable to drive and buses for some of our field trips.
Born in La Mirada, California, and raised under the dual influence of a political activist and an artist, Moses got her degree in history from U.C. Berkeley. She served as the associate director of Jewish Family and Children’s Services of the East Bay, where she developed and launched over a dozen mental health, family support, and senior service programs, both for the Jewish and broader community, most of which still exist today. She began consulting with Jewish Family Service of Orange County as a program developer and grant writer 5 years ago.
While conducting an older adult needs assessment for Jewish Family Service, Moses designed and secured funding for the Silver Streak Senior Transportation program and spearheaded the establishment of the JFS satellite office at Ezra Center, where members now can go for many types of assistance.
“The honor means so much coming from people I admire so much,” Moses said. “At the Ezra Center people are getting things but also giving. Margalit is a great organizer with an even greater heart. Claire Kappel embodies what the JFS wanted to do with the Silver Streak (transportation) program, and she told us what it was like to need transportation.”
Moses stressed that it was a team effort at JFS to bring services to the Ezra Center. Mel Roth, the previous CEO of the agency, supported the idea of needs assessment for seniors and a transportation program. Alan Zamosky supported enhanced services for North Orange County. Marcia Marcinko got volunteers to paint and carpet the room where counseling would take place at the Ezra Center.
The Ezra Center offers entertaining and stimulating programs for active seniors in a warm and friendly environment. Educational and cultural programming includes lectures, day trips, and discussion groups. Other programs include exercise and fitness classes, cards and games, support groups, and computer learning, a Yiddish club, and a writing group.
For further information about the Ezra Center, a beneficiary agency of Jewish Federation Orange County that provides a variety of programs for seniors at Temple Beth Emet on Monday and Thursday and Temple Beth Tikvah on Wednesday, contact activity director Margalit Moskowitz at (714) 7761103.