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January 13, 2012     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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January 13, 2012

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 13, 2012 PAGE 3A By Reva Shader Jewish Pavilion volunteer Suzan Shader has been named chair of the annual Jew- ish Pavilion Gala, which takes place at 5 p.m. Sunday April 22 at the Westin Lake Mary. One can't tell the history of the Jewish Pavilion without mentioning Shader's name. The Jewish Pavilion began with ameeting in September of 2001whena group, spearhead= ed by Sheryl Meitin and Claire Chepenik, met to present their plan to assist Jewish people who needed skilled nursing care. The concept was em- braced and a 30-bed addition to Westminster Care Nursing Home was established. The following January, the Jewish Senior Housing Council of Greater Orlando ap- pointed Shader, an R.N., to the service coordinator position of the Jewish Pavilion. Prior to this time, she had already been visiting the elderly and had keen insight to their needs. The criteria for someone in this position had to be a person of integrity With a high degree of competence, inspiration, car- ing and compassion. She had all that, plus she possessed that special sympathetie affection for the elderly and the needy. She was considered the perfect person to be tending to the needs of the residents. The original first five residents were David Levine, Herb Bander, Bessie Goldberg, Oscar Tetenbaum and Elsie Abrams. Shader acted as a patient advocate and liaison between the Jewish Senior Housing Council of Greater Orlando and the Westminster Care of Orlando Skilled Nursing Care Facility. However, there were so many other aspects of this position that kept her on her toes to ensure the residents were happy as well as properly cared for physically. It was also her task to ensure that Jewish activities and social services were provided, and in doing so, she would lead Shabbat services every Friday afternoon. In time, Hank and Joanie Goldberg would help her get everyone to their Country Kitchen dining room where Shabbat dinner was served.Adinner ofmatzah ball and chicken soup, followed by roasted chicken with challah and a dessert thatwas provided by Kinneret. Across the hall from her office, she established the Shalom Caf6, with a microwave and refrigerator for snacks. She instituted a clothing drive so that apparel would be available for those patients who did not have proper or enough attire. and she made sure thee were books, magazines, puzzles and a CD player. Shaderwas aray of sunshine to all her residents, and would visit everyone on a daily basis to check on them, chat with them, and ascertain their needs were being met. Shealso served afternoon snacks, and everyone was always delighted to receive that extra goodie, and be greeted by her loving, sweet smile. Everyone was elated with the progress that was being made, but for Shader, a severe health issue arose that kept her hospitalized for an extended period, and inevitably, she had to be replaced. Once back on her feet, she was invited to join the board of directors of the Friends of the Suzan Shader with grand- daughter Haylee Rose at Savannch Court Jewish Pavilion. She accepted and has been an active member ever since. Active is the key word; from 2003-2005 she held the position of treasurer; in 2006, she wasvice-president of membership; from 2007 to 2010, she was vice-president of fundraising and co-chair for the Gala; she was chair for the Gala in 2011 and will take on that responsibility this year as well. In 2008, Shader was the recipient of the Volunteer of the Year Award. Suzan Shader kissing Rose at Consulate Health Shader regularly visited the residents in retirement and nursing homes. One of the outstanding mitzvot Suzan arranged was a bar mitzvah ceremony for Kevin Rogers, who confided to her that he never experienced it as a youth, and it was his dream to accomplish this mitzvah. She helped him learn some of the prayers, and on his special day at the Rosewood Health and Rehabilitation Center, he participated in a bar mitzvah ceremony. For this auspicious occasion, Shader presented him with his very own tallit and yarmulke. Rabbi Robert Lefkowitz had befriended Rogers, and with many of the residents of the facility and members of the Friends of the Jewish Pavilion, he fulfilled his dream. In January, 2010, Haylee Rose Hill, Shader's 4-month- old granddaughter became the youngest volunteer for the Friends. This is the first in a series of occasional hands-on articles in which Pare Ruben temporar- ily joins an organization that serves the Jewish communit#. She says she "would love to join e~,ry group in town, but will defer that goal until hu- man cloning has reached a higher degree of accuracy." In a 24-hour period, she hopes to contribute and take on respon- sibilities that match the goals of the organizations, working side by side with employees and volunteers. "I plan on highlighting unsung heroes andnanprofits that areworking for the benefit of the Jewish and greater Orlando community, with hopes that you may want to join me in my adventures experiencing A Day in the Life of Jewish Orlando." By Pam Ruben Day 1I play Yenta Claus Thanks to the Urban Diction- any for providing the term. I do not recommend reading beyond the initial listing. I found myself in a toy ware- house on Dec,8, fillingaholiday toy list (found just below) com- piled by Jewish Family Services volunteer coordinator Marnie Chepenik. Holiday Gift List: Family 1 5 years,old 8 months old Family 2 4 years old 1 year old twins ay in rami 3 7 years old Family 4 5 years old 13 months old ...all the way through Fam- ily7. Later that day I had plans. along with my husband and daughter, to join in the JFS Kinder to Kinder program. The Kinder to Kinder program partners JFS with Children's Home Society and its Foster Parent program to sponsor a holiday party complete with food, games and toys for chil- dren in the foster program. The fosterparents use the eveningas opportunity to holiday shop, or just to take a break and spend some alone time with their spouse. Like many of you, I have received zillions of emails for charitable requests this holiday season, butthi~one reallypulled at my heartstrings, and stuck in my memory long enough for me to reply "yes" both to Amy Geboff at Congregation Ohev Shalom, who had sent the origi- nal message to young~:amilies, and to Marni Chepenik, who runs this holiday program for Jewish Family Services. Several years ago on Christ- mas I attended a holiday party in a group home through another organization, where children in imminent danger had been removed from their families. and were anxiously awaiting temporary placement with a private family. From the Outside they looked like any other kids. I am still amazed by the resilience of these displaced children, as they managed to laugh at the silly antics of an elderly Jewish magician as he pulled toys from his hat (good help is hard to find on a holiday), gobble down cake and ice cream, and rip open the gifts we had brought with screams of delight. That day is forever stuck in my head, and that was the image that guided my pointer finger to the "yes" button on my computer, as I agreed to attend the holiday party, and to help serve food and to play games with the kids. The email also requested that we bring a toy for a needy family. Repayment was a non-issue. Our only hope was to hear those giggles and screams of delight, once again. Fast forward to the day of the party, Dec. 8. 2011.Some- Q how I had ended up in a toy Warehouse in an industrial (and iffy) neighborhood near downtown, purchasing toys for the entire guest list. When I join an activity, I jump right in, and had offered to visit a toy wholesaler that has been gener- ous to the Jewish community (they asked not be credited), with hopes of filling the entire list with one trip. I must add a "thank you" to the other fami- lies who purchased additional bags bursting with toys, and c6ntributed financially to my endeavor. Upon entry into the build- ing~ I was led into an enormous room filled with toy samples and handed a clipboard to place my order. I feltlike akidin toy heaven, and couldn't help butwant to take home everything in sight. Good thing I had a list to fol- low, and so I startedwith Family 1. I immediately found a plastic butterfly with push buttons for the lO-month old boy in an area of toddler and baby toys. Then, I continued down the list. I fell in love with a set of plush hamsters in their little cages, and put three of these furry friends in my shopping basket. My kids might still have hamsters today if ours had been as agreeable and low maintenance as these plushy, pleasant smelling ro- dents. Next, I added a few pillow pets and some "Barbie" type dolls to my list. I also bought . a small dollhouse. I was able to afford it on my limited budget, as the price had been reduced in accordance with the local real estate market. As much as I enjoy shopping, by the time I reached the last name on the list. I was ready for a nap. Somehow, I had purchased approximately 18 gifts in less than an hour. I had heard that one could "shop 'til they dropped" but until that mo- ment, I did not believe it could be true. As I was amassing a giant basket of toys, I began to feel a bit like a"Chanukah elf,"but the expression wasn't quite right. (Perhaps the pointy ears are a match, but green has never been my color.) I whipped out my phone to "Google" some alternate terms-and the closest I could find was '~renta Claus." I was a"yiddishe mama" filling a Christmas list for good liftle girls and boys. It was close enough. (No comments about the round belly and white hair, or you will be receiving a lump of coal next Chanukah!) My family finally made it to the holiday party around 7:30 that night. The Social Hall was alreadybustlingwith little ones. and my 16-year-old daughter, made a beeline for a 10-month- old, who drooled on his new butterfly toy with appreciation. Seven other families were in attendance, and we recognized them from the Jewish Academy, Ohev and the JCC. A bunch of morns (including myself) went into the adjoining room to match each gift with a child from the list. to make sure no one had been overlooked. Even Santa would have been impressed with our efficiency. The older volunteers were putting together crafts with the kids, andguiding them through the dinner buffet, but as soon as the gifts came out. all activity came to a standstill. As each child heard their name called, they came running toward us. Then. we hit pay dirt. as squeals of delight filled the room, and we were treated to an encore of giggles. A couple of thk little ones had been mis- matched with their toys, so we quietly pulled new ones out from our hats. When the foster parents returned they seemed a bit refreshed, several thanked us for our assistance, and the em- ployees of the Children's Home Society appeared especially grateful. Thanks to that evening, I have a n~w image stuck in my head, replacing the old one. As soon as her foster parents ar- rived, the toddler from Family 4 on the shopping list, shot out her arms in their direction, call- ing "Dada." That was a gift that not even "Yenta Claus"' could give. Children love patties anti toys, but there's nothing like having a home for the holidays. The goal of Jewish Fam- .ily Services' Kinder-to-Kihder program is aimed at giving the youth of the community an opportunity to give back to other children, while at the same time teaching the spirit of volunteerism and community service. Check out its website at For more information con- tact Marni Chepenik at JFS, 407-644-7593, ext. 227. or email: marni.chepenik@jfsor- Pamela Ruben is an Or- lando area author, educator and social-action writer. She can be reached at www.pepperypress. corn, press "contact us." By Jill Cousins Special to the Heritage A trip to the mailbox never elicited so much excitement from the children of Heidi Ziss- man, Jaime Gold and Veronica Serjai, until they enmUed in the PJ Library program. The PJ Library offers free monthly Jewish-themed books, CDs and DVDs to families with young children, ages 6 months to approximately 5 ~ years. The program is funded locally by the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando and subsidized nation- ally by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation. Each month a big white en- velope arrives with the names of the children in the household. Io Central Florida, the program began in January and has sur- passed the Federation's third- year enrollment goals with 395 families currently participating (46 percent of the areas Jewish families with young children). For more than half of those families, the PJ Library is their only connection to the Jewish con'ln'lunity. "My kids wait for the books to arrive every month," said Jaime Gold. who lives in Altamonte Springs with husband Tayler, son Mason, 5, and daughter Layla, 3. "I walk in the house [with the envelope] and say, 'PJ Library!' and they come running." It's a similar scene for Serjai, who also lives in Altamonte Springs, with husband Martin Szwimer; son Lucas, 5; daugh- ter Julia, 4; and son Nicolas, 15 months. "The kids get really excited when they get something in the mail with their names on it," Serjai said. "I give them the envelope to open, and they want us to read it to them right away." Zissman, who worked in the Seminole County school system for six years before she became a morn, loves the educational aspect of the PJ Library books. She lives in Oviedo with hus- band David, son Asher, 2, and daughter Maggie Rose, 1. "The PJ Library helps me teach my children about Jewish values, traditions and holidays," said Zissman, whose son attends the JCC preschool and daughter goes to Shayna'sVillage."Myson really loves his Jewish education anyway, and this just enhances what he learns in school. I think I'm raising a little rabbi. It's awesome!" The Federation strives to keep its PJ families engaged with its Facebook page, monthly newsletters and PJ Library events in the Central Florida area. In recent months, the Harold Grinspoon Foundation has expanded the program with Sifriyat Pijama, an Israeli version of the PJ Library. In Israel, the books are distributed through preschools, where teachers encourage students to explore their Jewish identity. In Central Florida, PJ Library recently celebrated its one-year anniversary with a birthday party in Baldwin Pare "I'm really thankful that the Jewish Federation has brought this to our community in Orlando" Serjai said. "It says a lot about how much they care." To learn more or enroll in PJ Library visit or email Karen Cohen at kcohen@ j She can also be reached by calling 407-645-5933. t {