Sometimes, a chance meeting
develops into something special.
That’s what happened
on the first day of AOTA’s 2005 Conference in Long Beach for a group of Jewish Occupational Therapists.
A female OT from New York just happened to spot a man wearing a yarmulkah among the
thousands roaming the floor of the convention center Exposition Hall.
She asked the man and his
wife if they knew a place to buy kosher food for the Sabbath. Told the closest place was Los Angeles,
30 miles away, she seemed resigned to eating her canned tuna in her hotel room, until they invited her to share Sabbath dinner
– that they were picking up that night in L.A. –
in their hotel room.
An hour later, he spotted
two other men wearing yarmulkahs in the Expo Hall crowd. They, too, were planning to eat in their hotel room.
“Why don’t we
all eat together, and really celebrate the Sabbath?” was the question.
The real question was where
to find the space.
The answer came from a Front
Desk manager at the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel.
He offered a “board
room”, scheduled to be vacant that Friday night.
The anticipation of a Sabbath
meal together grew. So did the number of Occupational Therapists. By candle-lighting, the number was ten; they came from New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Haifa,
they had found each other. All were meeting for the first time.
Some brought their own food
that they had planned to eat alone; For two and a half hours, everyone shared in this potluck-style dinner. Everyone sang Sabbath songs. Everyone shared professional
experiences. Everyone knew of other Occupational Therapists who would have come
to this annual conference, if they knew they could gather together around a real Shabbat table.
By conference end on Sunday,
they had their own organization, the Orthodox Jewish Occupational Therapy Caucus (OJOTC@Hotmail.com) , and plans to join together next year in Charlotte, North Carolina, with many times that number.