Orthodox Jewish Occupational Therapy Chavrusa

AOTA 2007 Conference - St. Louis, Missouri

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The St. Louis Shabbat Experience

Joyce Sabari lighting candles

Shabbat candles were six rows of tea lights, kindled on a square tray in the corner of a hotel meeting room.


Havdalah was on the pavement, under the hotel's covered ballroom entryway.


In between were 25 hours which combined the spiritualism and sanctity of Shabbat with the camaraderie and friendship of colleagues, and professional growth in a relaxing manner that only Shabbat can bring.


This was what the 2nd Annual Shabbat Program of the OJOTC brought to St. Louis, April 20 to 23, as part of the 87th Annual Conference of the American Occupational Therapy Association.

Welcome to Our Shabbat Dinner

When we arrived in St Louis the day before Conference began, OJOTC had 16 confirmed reservations for our Shabbat dinner; and 10 for Shabbat lunch. 


Then, we posted flyers on conference center bulletin boards -- and our cell phones started ringing.


By the time Chezkie Rand began Kiddush, we had three tables full, two dozen women and men, seated in the Renaissance Grand Hotel's meeting room turned into a room full of Shabbat sounds and aromas.


Flowers were on the table, and a scrumptious buffet prepared by a local Glatt Kosher caterer was spread out on serving tables.  Shabbat candles were on another table.  And washing stations set up by the hotel were in another corner of the room.


Around the tables were OT's and their guests from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Massachusetts, Florida, Ohio and Cleveland, as well as two OT's from Israel.


Our Table is Set for Shabbat

We were also honored to be joined by Laurel Radley, Associate Director of Professional Affairs for AOTA, and Barbara Kornblau, Past President of AOTA along with her husband.


We ate, we drank, we schmoozed, we sang Z’mirot from our own specially-prepared OJOTC Benchers, we heard Divrei Torah and we realized once again the value of meeting new friends and re-connecting with others, especially around a Shabbat table.


Shabbat lunch was more of the same, with a couple of new faces around our table.


What a pleasure it was to share full Shabbat meals with each other, Kiddush, appetizers, salads, chicken, cold cuts, desserts and more, instead of opening packages in our individual hotel rooms.  To say nothing about being able to “bench” together and to truly feel the spirit of Shabbat as a group.



And then there was Havdalah.

Havdalah On the Sidewalk

Last year in Charlotte, we had to fight the winds blowing by the hotel’s entrance and retreat to the entrance to the hotel’s garage.


This year, we gathered on the sidewalk, under the entrance to the hotel’s ballroom building. And we had no trouble keeping the candle lit.


Next year, when we return to the sandy shore of Long Beach, California (where OJOTC got its start), who knows where Havdalah will be celebrated.


One thing is certain, Shabbat at Conference will once again be a unique experience for all of us.


And next year, we expect to have a Minyan to add to our Shabbat experience.


Presentations by OJOTC Members at AOTA Conference 2007

Multicultural and Diversity Exchange: A Discussion on Health Disparities and Occupational Therapy
Panel included:
Peggy L. Gurock, OTR/L
Senior Occupational Therapist
Trinitas Childrens Therapy Services
Elizabeth, NJ





E-Portfolio Development and Applications in Occupational Therapy
Presenters included:
Naomi Schubin Greenberg, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA
LaGuardia Community College
Long Island City, NY

A Comparison of Cognitive Performance Between Palestinian and Israeli Children
Presenters include:
Naomi Josman, PhD
University of Haifa
Haifa, Israel



Confronting Issues of Race and Culture in the Classroom and Community with Occupational Therapy Students
Presenters included:
Rivka Molinsky, OTR/L
Touro College
New York City

Rehabilitation of Memory and Processing Speed to Improve
of Multiple Sclerosis Patients
Presented by:
Jennifer Tamar Fromm, MS, OTR/L, CCRC
NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases
MS Care Center
New York City



Occupational Therapy Intervention in Rare Diseases: Treacher Collins Syndrome
Presenters included:
Naomi Schubin Greenberg, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA
LaGuardia Community College
Long Island City, NY

Occupational Therapy and Multiple Sclerosis: Improving Lives
Increased Participation
Presented by:
Jennifer Tamar Fromm, MS, OTR/L, CCRC
NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases
MS Care Center
New York City



The STAR: A New Tool That Quantifies Time Use Patterns for People With Physical Disabilties 

Presented by:
Joyce Sabari, PhD, OTR, FAOTA
State University of New York, Downstate
Brooklyn, NY

Handwriting Characteristics of Children Diagnosed With Developmental Coordination Disorders

Presenters Included:
Sara Rosenblum, PhD, OT
University of Haifa
Haifa, Israel



Cultural Strategies Used by Western Trained Occupational Therapists Practicing in Asia

Presenters Included:
Malka Berkowitz, OTS
Columbia University
New York City