What started with an idea and suggestions from Rabbi Robert “Jeremiah” Bergman of blessed memory, for whom the Jeremiah Society is named, and Rabbi Moishe Engel, who celebrates our Hanukah at Heritage Pointe, Rose Lacher pioneered a program for Jewish adults with special needs in Orange County. This mitzvah making would not have continued, or have its vitality, without the past and present support and participation of volunteers and donors. We thank everyone.
Rose’s dream of a broad community of programs and services, including housing for special needs, bore fruit with Jewish Federation & Family Services, creating the first Jewish home for special needs-Mandel House, and the next home-Horwitz Family Home, scheduled to open in 2017.
Everyone who knows Rose knows her smile and warmth. Her quiet tenacity, perseverance and vision keeps the light for special needs lit in the community. Programming includes Jewish holidays with participatory learning segments plus any corresponding menus, whether Hanukah or Passover or Sukkot/Shavuoth, or even a summer BBQ. Socialization is important. It enables Jeremiah members to have a safe environment of encouragement and expression. It helps to support feelings and thoughts and offers recognition, respect and self-value. Self-esteem, and self-confidence with peer and volunteer support also establishes trust and friendships.
Rose also recognized that music and dance and arts and crafts were not only fun and social but also accented a variety of themed programs. Whether Israeli, Jewish or secular it accents fun with knowledge, creativity and spirituality. Members also learn about the value and performance of mitzvot and opportunities to do that.
We have come a long way with providing programming for special needs. There is much more acceptance along with programs and services. Jeremiah continues to grow and needs your help to expand programs. Residential home services have been established with more on the drawing board. Organizations such as Congregation Shir Ha Ma’alot’s Brit Tikvah and the Friendship Circle offer additional special needs programs. Temple Bat Yahm provides the “home” for the Jeremiah Society.
There was a lovely reception held on Sunday, September 18 at Temple Bat Yahm to celebrate Jeremiah Society’s 30th anniversary. The community gathered to say thanks to all of those who helped the Jeremiah Society remain a vital program in the community. We are so pleased and excited that it will continue under the umbrella of JFFS and believe that this next step in our evolution will allow the Jeremiah Society to flourish and take it to the next level. If you would like to make a donation to help ensure the future of the Jeremiah Society please visit us at www.jewishoc.org/donatejeremiah.
A sincere thank you to Sheldon and the entire Lacher family for their contribution to Jlife Magazine.