Donny, who lives in an Ohel Bais Ezra residence in New York, and Chaim, who lives in an Etta Israel Center residence in Los Angeles, may be separated by a five-hour flight, but the needs and aspirations of each and the concerns of their families are similar.
Ohel and Etta share the mission of elevating the lives of individuals and families in need and integrating those challenged by disability. Etta was founded in 1993 in Los Angeles in memory of Mrs. Etta Israel, who believed in the potential of every individual with special needs. Today Etta offers residential services, case management, independent living support, educational services, youth programs, and summer day camp programs.
Ohel was founded in 1969 in New York City as a foster-care agency for abused and neglected Jewish children. With over 1,200 dedicated staff, Ohel now serves thousands of children, adults, and families every day through its divisions of Ohel foster care, Ohel Bais Ezra, Ohel mental health, Ohel lifetime care, Ohel Institute of Training, and Camp Kaylie at Ohel.
Sharon Levine and Kam Babaoff, president and chairman respectively of Etta, state, “Given Etta’s and Ohel’s shared goals, service excellence, innovative programming, and dedication to the individuals we serve, it was a perfect match. Our merger with Ohel will further Etta’s goals to meet the ever increasing needs of the Los Angeles community drawing on the welcome support of Ohel—a highly regarded, larger, and secure partner that will help us with strategic planning, development and growth.”
“Ohel has always sought to address the challenges in the community and these needs are universal,” say Moishe Hellman and Mel Zachter, co-presidents of Ohel. “With 43 years of service to the community, our experience and expertise has enabled Ohel to leverage services beyond New York, including New Jersey, South Florida, and now Etta in Los Angeles, an organization that has been a trailblazer serving people with developmental disabilities and their families.”
The merger will also importantly further the reach of Camp Kaylie at Ohel, the groundbreaking summer camp for kids of all abilities in Wurtsboro, N.Y., that in just two years has attracted significant campers nationwide.
The new Etta at Ohel board of directors will be led by Sharon Levine of Los Angeles and Moishe Hellman of New York serving as co-presidents. The directors include Kam Babaoff, Shloime Dachs, Ben Englander, Dave Garden, Jay Kestenbaum, Elly Kleinman, Irving Langer, Murray Lappe, Irving Lebovics, Chavee Lerer Mellon, Betty Ryzman, Rivka Wilamowsky, and Mel Zachter.
Mrs. Levine and Mr. Hellman are enthusiastic about the potential for growth and sharing this vision with the greater Los Angeles community at Etta’s 19th annual gala, November 14 at the California Science Center.
With this merger, Ohel and Etta will further strengthen the lives of the thousands of individuals and families served through a lifetime commitment of care.
Moishe Hellman and Mel Zachter continue to serve as co-presidents of Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services.