Tell us how you or a member of your family has been touched as a client, volunteer, staff or past leader of Jewish Employment Montreal (JVS/JEM), Jewish Family Services (BDHI/JFS), Jewish Immigrant Aid Services (JIAS), and Ometz.
Marcelle partage son histoire
Submitted by: Agence Ometz
Marcelle Sabrin Partouche a eu une vie plus dure que la plupart – une vie marquée par le divorce de ses parents, par le décès prématuré de sa mère, par le placement en famille d’accueil... read more
Marcelle Sabrin Partouche a eu une vie plus dure que la plupart – une vie marquée par le divorce de ses parents, par le décès prématuré de sa mère, par le placement en famille d’accueil et par le danger très réel de l’itinérance. Pourtant, quand on parle avec elle, on est frappé par son optimisme, sa résilience et sa détermination. Elle est reconnaissante à sa mère qui, pendant le peu de temps qu’ils ont passé ensemble, a insufflé à ses enfants la nature essentielle d’une bonne éducation. « L’éducation était extrêmement importante pour la famille », dit-elle. « On avait pris pour acquis que je serais première de ma classe ». Tel était l’héritage de sa mère. Aujourd’hui, Marcelle, qui aura 23 ans à la fin du mois d’avril, étudie les sciences politiques et l’anthropologie à l’Université McGill, et elle espère suivre des cours de droit. Elle est reconnaissante à l’Agence Ometz non seulement de l’avoir aidée à poursuivre son éducation, mais aussi du soutien que l’Agence Ometz continue de lui apporter sous de très nombreuses formes.
Née à Montréal en 1991, Marcelle est la plus jeune de trois enfants issus d’une famille mixte d’immigrants : sa mère, qui était juive, est née en Israël et a grandi en France. Son père était mexicain et catholique. Tous deux ont divorcé quand Marcelle avait trois ans. Adolescente, sa mère a été atteinte du lymphome de Hodgkin qui a été traité par chimiothérapie et radiothérapie, ayant pour conséquence l’apparition de problèmes cardiaques et pulmonaires des années plus tard, quand elle avait une quarantaine d’années. Cela a provoqué de nombreux mouvements : Marcelle et sa sœur ont été envoyées à Miami pour y vivre avec des membres de la famille, tandis que son frère et sa mère parcouraient l’Europe puis les alentours de Montréal pour trouver un traitement médical. Il devint évident que le seul traitement disponible était palliatif et ses enfants ont aidé à prendre soin d’elle.
« Plus la maladie gagnait ma mère, plus elle devenait une forte tête », se souvient Marcelle. Pendant les dernières années de sa vie, Nina Partouche s’interrogea sur ses croyances religieuses et adopta le catholicisme qui « mettait une distance entre elle et sa famille ». En février 2003, Nina Partouche est décédée à son domicile. Les enfants restèrent ensemble sous la supervision d’un travailleur social de Batshaw. Après une série de ce que Marcelle appelle des « mouvements instables », les enfants décidèrent qu’ils prendraient soin d’eux-mêmes. Prétendant que leur père les recherchait, ils se sont soutenus mutuellement et ont suivi leur scolarité au Collège International Marie de France où, en tant que citoyens français, ils ont bénéficié de bourses. Marcelle y a fait tout son secondaire et l’équivalent du Cégep.
À l’âge de 16 ans, sa sœur et elle ont été placées d’urgence en famille d’accueil car leur frère aîné ne pouvait plus s’occuper d’elles. À 18 ans, quand elle est devenue trop âgée pour faire partie du système, elle a décidé d’aller à Haïti après le terrible tremblement de terre de 2010 pour y faire du bénévolat. « J’avais besoin d’être ailleurs », dit-elle. « Ma vie avait été un combat tellement difficile que j’avais besoin de me retrouver entourée de gens qui étaient encore plus dans le besoin ». Après avoir séjourné huit mois en Haïti chez des amis, elle est rentrée et s’est retrouvée principalement sans abri. Elle a contacté l’Agence Ometz où elle est devenue cliente du programme FIX qui vise à maximiser le potentiel des enfants et des jeunes à risque. Amanda Keller, une agente de traitement de cas travaillant pour l’équipe des jeunes à l’Agence Ometz a aidé Marcelle qui avait elle-même connu le système de placement familial. Marcelle décrit l’aide d’Amanda comme « empreinte d’une infinie bienveillance, compassion, empathie, générosité et d’une réelle attention. Elle représente par bien des aspects ce qu’incarne l’Agence Ometz ». Amanda a donné envie à Marcelle de s’inscrire à l’Université McGill. L’Agence Ometz l’a aidée elle et sa sœur à signer un bail et leur a procuré de l’argent et de la nourriture pour pouvoir suivre les cours et payer les livres. Marcelle faisait partie d’un programme qui a permis de diagnostiquer son trouble déficitaire de l’attention. Elle s’est inscrite à un atelier de cuisine à l’Agence Ometz, qui réunissait des jeunes ayant peu de soutien familial sain. « On y fait très peu la cuisine, mais on parle énormément » dit Marcelle. « Cela donne un sentiment d’appartenance. »
Amanda dit qu’elle parle aux jeunes qu’elle aide « comme à mes égaux, qui traversent simplement une mauvaise passe ». Elle s’efforce de leur offrir « des choses que j’aurais aimé avoir quand mon âge ne me permettait plus de faire partie du système : une connexion et du soutien. Vous vous retrouvez sur le fil... dans une grande fragilité. C’est difficile de se ressaisir, et le dialogue est essentiel ». Amanda explique qu’en perdant sa mère à un si jeune âge, Marcelle a manqué beaucoup de choses. « Elle doit travailler pour nouer des relations saines et apprendre où sont les limites... Elle doit apprendre à établir un lien émotionnel avec les gens et à gérer la douleur causée par la perte de sa mère. » Marcelle, qui est aujourd’hui en contact avec un oncle et une tante, déclare : « J’ai désormais un meilleur lien avec ma famille et je sais que sans le soutien de l’Agence Ometz, je n’aurais jamais pu assumer mon identité en tant qu’orpheline, juive, étudiante atteinte d’un trouble de l’attention ou tout simplement en tant qu’être humain profondément gentil ». hide
Ometz is a Lifeline
Submitted by: Linda Kislowicz
I first started to work at Jewish Family Services social center in 1976. I graduated with an MSW at McGill with a concentration in child welfare, and I got a job at JFS in the youth protection pr... read more
I first started to work at Jewish Family Services social center in 1976. I graduated with an MSW at McGill with a concentration in child welfare, and I got a job at JFS in the youth protection program. From that point, I became a supervisor in child welfare. I worked from ’76-80 with two short maternity leaves, and then I did a year as a research director on evaluating social services in Jewish hospitals. Then, I went off for a little while to work at McGill University and Université de Montreal as a researcher. As my children grew, I came back in ’84 to be the director of School Social Services, which I did for five years. Then I left from ’89-93 to work at the Y, and eventually came back to be the director of JFS. At the time, the government had withdrawn funding for JFS, so the organization switched to become a community-funded agency. We were in redevelopment mode from ’93 onward, and I stayed until 2002. During those nine years as director of JFS we grew tremendously, from a budget of $1 million to $5 million.
The first two years of my executive directorship were very exciting because we were really growing. We had to change our mindset and become more entrepreneurial, client/community-oriented, and we had to develop new sources of funding. We reintroduced a family counselling program which had fallen by the wayside, we developed a program for mental health clients, we grew the school program from Jewish day schools-only to a much larger system that helped p We also revamped the way we worked with poor families.
I think Ometz is one of the most critical agencies in the Montreal community, both Jewish and general, in that it serves the most vulnerable families; “vulnerability” defined in many ways—in terms of income, capacity, marginalization, affiliation, and identification. Ometz is a lifeline. It enables people to live in the community with dignity and support. It also enables people to become independent and to get a leg up when they need it. It helps those in need move on with their lives.
I have worked almost my entire career in Jewish communal organizations. From Ometz I became the executive director of the Y, where I was for close to five years. I then moved to Toronto where I became the CEO of Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA. That being said, I always look back on my years at JFS as being among the most interesting and stimulating. I really believe that the organization made a huge difference in the lives of the people we helped, and as a professional, I grew enormously and had amazing opportunities. hide
My Wish for the Jewish Community
Submitted by: Gail Small
Prior to coming to JFS/Ometz I was the Executive Director of the Farha Foundation and we had awarded a grant to JFS to deliver AIDS education workshops. I got to know the agency in this way, like... read more
Prior to coming to JFS/Ometz I was the Executive Director of the Farha Foundation and we had awarded a grant to JFS to deliver AIDS education workshops. I got to know the agency in this way, liked what I saw, and so, when I started thinking about moving on from the Farha Foundation, I decided to apply for a senior management position at JFS. When I came for the morning interview, I arrived early and sat in the reception in order to observe people coming and going. I wanted to see what the atmosphere was like and how the staff felt coming to work. Again, I liked what I saw. That’s how I started at Ometz, as a senior manager in 1997 and I am still here albeit in another position. And I still like what I see.
In the early 2000s I left JFS and went to work at Federation CJA as the Director of Community Planning for a short time. When the Executive Director position opened up at JFS, I knew that that was where I really wanted to be. JFS was my home and my family.
One of the highlights from my executive directorship is the merger of JEM, JFS, and JIAS. It was an incredible, ambitious project and it required much foresight and courage (Ometz) on the part of both the lay and professionals to make the merger happen. Given that we know from literature that most mergers don’t work, we obviously all did something right because here we are today, a very strong, important and vital organization in the Jewish community, with a very talented staff and board.
My wish for the future is that our community no longer requires a social services organization like Ometz. That would mean that Jewish poverty was not as prevalent as it is today, that families were strong and able to raise healthy and resilient children, and that jobs were easy to come by. That’s a very ambitious wish – one that I know will unfortunately not be achieved in my lifetime. So for now, our role at Ometz is to be constantly in touch with what our community members need from us, to be able to adapt and reinvent ourselves according to the needs of the community, and to continuously forge partnerships with organizations both within the Jewish community and within the greater community of Montreal. hide
I Am Here
Submitted by: Amy .
Imagine that you are at home in your comfortable house. You are planning your next family vacation. Your child is playing happily on the kitchen floor, while the three other children are in their... read more
Imagine that you are at home in your comfortable house. You are planning your next family vacation. Your child is playing happily on the kitchen floor, while the three other children are in their Jewish school. The doorbell rings and two men are standing there, a moving truck behind them, official papers in-hand, stating that your furniture is being taken and that you have a week to leave your home. I was clueless. For a decade my mind has been on what I saw and thought, not knowing that my life as I knew it was falling apart. Though it was many years ago, I can still feel my knees buckle when I remember that day. I was in shock. I didn’t know what to do.
My cousin told me that the Jewish community would help me. I walked into Ometz and was met by a social worker. She listened to my story with compassion and let me know that she and the agency were there to help me through my crisis. I had no savings and was completely dependent on my spouse financially. Unfortunately, he disappeared from the family at this time. Ometz immediately provided me with help for food for the next while, helped me pay the first month’s rent at the new place, and most importantly, let me know that I was not alone to be with my problems. My social worker would visit us weekly to talk and see how we were coping. Each of my children experienced separation from their father, a lifetime’s change, differently. The kids had comfort to a point, but were now asked to do laundry, cleaning, and other household tasks. I would also inform my social worker on Mondays, after the weekend, when my kids’ father was supposed to visit and didn’t show up. It was heartbreaking. My children were always my main focus and I felt terrible and guilty for not giving them the childhood I wanted for them.
At the time, there were only a few services specifically for children going through a family breakup. Thanks to the ongoing support from Federation CJA, Ometz offers therapy to help children deal with loss, school workers to help support academic success, and a huge team specializing in working with kids and young adults. The support I got as a mother from Ometz at the time helped me, helped my children, and was invaluable. I ended up looking forward to those weekly visits. When I first came to ask for help, I was ashamed and embarrassed, but my community never made me feel like a beggar. I received the help I needed, and kept my dignity. My kids continued to attend their Jewish day schools and we were subsidized. After my situation stabilized, I began working full-time. I felt I had turned a corner. I learned how important it was for me, as a woman, to stand on my own, to be aware of my choice, and not to be completely dependent on someone else.
Over the years, the community and Ometz continued to play an important role in my life. I was referred to three different jobs which I held for extended periods of time. My youngest child needed a counsellor to talk to, and Ometz found the right young man to help me. My children have consulted with Ometz as they moved forward in their lives: adult services, family resources… I’m happy to say that each of my children are grown and married, and I have ten beautiful grandchildren. I’m proud to share my story. I feel as if I am closing a circle. I want to emphasize how grateful I am for the help I received at the low point in my life. I love this year’s campaign slogan, “I am here.” Well, I am here, as well as my children and grandchildren. This community really makes a difference in people’s lives. Thank you for your generosity. hide
The Ability to Adapt With The Times
Submitted by: Rhona Blanshay
I was a volunteer for an Israel-based organization for many years before I was approached by Jewish Family Services. As a volunteer, my experiences had always been rewarding, and I also felt it w... read more
I was a volunteer for an Israel-based organization for many years before I was approached by Jewish Family Services. As a volunteer, my experiences had always been rewarding, and I also felt it was time to rededicate my commitment to Jewish identity and values. I was very pleased to accept this new challenge.
At JFS, I was most fortunate to work with an incredible staff of group and lay leaders. Together, we explored issues that the organization felt were important, and got the word out that these issues were taking place. The name of one campaign in particular says it all: “Countless Reasons Why We’re Here”—we provided a wide range of social services. Our school support services provided counselling and also addressed problems such as bullying and drug addiction.
One of our most successful endeavors was the creation of our Parlour Meetings. At these meetings, parents would sit with animators in order to discuss the problems they had with their adolescent and pre-teen children. The topics would range from dating, to issues on school, to drug abuse. It became hugely successful, with more than 35 groups of parents attending each meeting. In addition to the Parlour Meetings, the School Intervention Team was called upon on several occasions to talk about issues such as student suicide. In doing so, our team members were recognized as experts, which was very rewarding for all the workers and volunteers involved.Le Mercaz was an initiative that provided food and clothing to those in need. Le Mercaz also sponsored Dress For Success, which helped women who wanted to get back into the workplace.
During my time at JFS, we received a grant from Health Canada and were able to put out a series of booklets entitled “Family Front and Center”. This bilingual resources guide became quite popular in the community. Another successful campaign was “The Paper Jammers”, which provided jobs for adults with mental health issues. In 2004, JFS started doing intake and referral in the West Island. Our Exceptional Case Committee (ECC) had a special type of expertise that would guide our social workers into making the right decisions.
For 140+ years, Jewish Family Services strived to answer the needs of the community, and I am happy to say that Ometz has continued to do so. One of Ometz’s great strengths is its ability to adapt to the times and move forward, while keeping the mission and vision constant. I am very proud of my involvement with both Federation and Jewish Family Services. hide
Submitted by: Erin Friend
Ometz helped me get hired for two jobs in the last 5 years. I was able to get advice from my counselor about my resume and she gave me the opportunity to participate in the Cocktails and Conversa... read more
Ometz helped me get hired for two jobs in the last 5 years. I was able to get advice from my counselor about my resume and she gave me the opportunity to participate in the Cocktails and Conversation recruiting event which was a phenomenal experience. It had been a long time since I had spoken in public so it was a little nerve-racking, but I was given good practice and great feedback to help improve and refine my speech. It's also incredibly helpful to be thrust into a room full of potential employers that I can at the very least network through.
At the Cocktails and Conversation, where I was attending as a featured candidate, I remember waiting while the person before me gave his speech and thinking "Oh boy, I'm next" and then walking to the podium thinking "whatever you do, don't fall on your face". But then getting up in front of everyone, I wasn't nearly as nervous as I thought I would be and going through my speech was almost effortless because I had already practiced it in front of our group so many times before. Then, not two minutes after the speeches had concluded, I was approached by one of the guest entrepreneurs and asked to come in for an interview the following week. I was hired by that company and I am still happily employed by them today.
I would certainly use Ometz services again and although I have not used any of the other services offered, I do know people who have (classes, etc.), and I know those are a huge resource. hide
Being There to Serve
Submitted by: Debby Becker Newpol
I was approached by the president of JVS at the time to see if I would get involved with the agency. I was inclined to accept, seeing as my father was a past president of JVS and I was familiar w... read more
I was approached by the president of JVS at the time to see if I would get involved with the agency. I was inclined to accept, seeing as my father was a past president of JVS and I was familiar with the work they did. In fact, my father was always an important part of my involvement.
A defining event during my presidency was when JVS became JEM & the JEM Workshop. During this stage we went through a whole rebranding and reinvention, essentially bringing JVS into the new age. The Workshop stayed the same in terms of the services it provided, but the restructuring was a necessary step for the agency.
JEM was one stop along the way of a long career in community involvement. Although I am no longer involved in the agency, I am now involved in other community endeavors. The thing about Ometz is, because there are so many different areas of service within the organization, donors can have a choice in projects and programs where their money can go. For instance, they could donate directly to the workshop. There’s a whole menu of options which I believe not only serves the agency, but also the donor. There is a wonderful partnership to be had there.
I believe Ometz is one of the most important, if not the most important agency within the Federation umbrella because it provides the greatest support to the largest group of vulnerable people. I think it is hugely important. Unfortunately, Ometz will always have a great need in the community, and it is our obligation as a community to be there to serve. hide
Lending a Hand to the Jewish Community
Submitted by: Michael Cape
Back in 2001 in the midst of the Intifada, my son David (now a past President of Federation CJA) asked me to join him on a Federation CJA solidarity mission to Israel. This mission was my first e... read more
Back in 2001 in the midst of the Intifada, my son David (now a past President of Federation CJA) asked me to join him on a Federation CJA solidarity mission to Israel. This mission was my first ever connection with Federation CJA since 1976, and it was the first time I’d been back in Israel since taking part in a family mission at that time – my only previous visit. Because of that trip, I came back with a strong emotional attachment to Israel that I hadn’t had before and an even stronger connection to the Montreal Jewish Community. I returned with the feeling that I wanted to get involved.
Over the next couple of years, Marilyn Blumer, one of the mission leaders, took me up on my expression of interest, and in no short order started plunking me on several different committees – one of which was JVS. At the time, JVS was working to create a new employment agency. I participated in that committee as well, and the ultimate outcome was JEM. To my surprise, they asked me to become its first President. The Workshop also fell under the JEM umbrella and working with Howard Berger, we restructured the Workshop, brought in a whole new group of young leaders, and raise two million dollars to totally renovate the premises. It was a very rewarding experience.
Fast-forward a couple of years and I’m on the committee to merge JEM, JIAS, and JFS into a mega social agency of Federation CJA. We pulled off the merger with great success and Ometz was born. We were so very proud of our achievement and the governance we set up. So many said it couldn’t be done and that it wouldn’t work, yet with everyone from the three former agencies building trust in one another, we pulled it off. We built up the trust that allowed everyone to move forward. Being an integral part of such basic changes was a very rewarding feeling. We truly felt like we helped our community organization, made a positive contribution, and left a permanent imprint. In doing that, you get back more than you give.
Looking back, I see my time at JVS, JEM, and Ometz as a collective of my experiences at Federation CJA that have been so personally rewarding. Could I have ever believed that in 2007 I would be asked to be Chairman of the Annual CJA Campaign? It was such an honor to be the face of the Montreal Jewish community, and it was an experience I’ll never forget.
I’ve always looked at it this way: Ometz is really the guts of Federation CJA. Without Ometz, Federation CJA would not exist the way it does now – it is its heart and soul. I love the community and wherever they’ve asked me to lend a hand, I have not hesitated, and hopefully, I never will. hide
Une formidable chaine d’amour
Submitted by: Anonyme .
Mon premier contact avec l’Agence Ometz qui s’appelait à l’époque JFS, remonte à environ 15 ans. J’avais entendu parler d’un soutien aux familles juives qu’apportait l’Agence JF... read more
Mon premier contact avec l’Agence Ometz qui s’appelait à l’époque JFS, remonte à environ 15 ans. J’avais entendu parler d’un soutien aux familles juives qu’apportait l’Agence JFS grâce à la Communauté Sépharade, que j’avais elle-même connue lorsque j’enseignais dans des écoles juives peu après mon arrivée au Canada.
L’Agence Ometz-JFS-m’a toujours soutenue de façon concrète, efficace, immédiate, discrète et aussi bien matériellement que moralement. Les assistantes sociales ont toujours été dévouées, compétentes, et humaines. Elles font leur possible pour répondre à nos besoins urgents selon toutes les ressources dont elles disposent, que ce soit avec des cartes cadeaux à utiliser dans des supermarchés, des paiements de facture et dons d’argent si possible ainsi que des références utiles (médicales, administratives, professionnelles, etc.) adaptées aux besoins spécifiques.
Jamais je n’oublierai la présence constante de l’Agence Ometz-JFS et leur aide précieuse lors d’une longue convalescence pendant laquelle je ne pouvais travailler. Mon assurance chômage ne suffisait pas à pourvoir aux besoins essentiels de ma famille avec 5 enfants, un loyer, etc... Bonnie, ma chère assistante sociale, a pris les choses en main et après avoir bien examiné ma situation, elle a veillé à ce que nous ayons de quoi bien manger et régler nos factures importantes. Elle m’a toujours respectée, encouragée, guidée, en communiquant avec moi aussi souvent que j’en avais besoin. Ainsi, dès quelques périodes éprouvantes que j’ai vécues ici au Canada, je conserve le souvenir précieux de cette présence inconditionnelle et active de l’Agence Ometz , de son personnel et aussi un profond sentiment de reconnaissance envers tous les chers donateurs anonymes et généreux de notre communauté sans lesquels tout cela n’aurait été possible.
Si mes moyens et le temps me le permettaient, j’aimerais pouvoir manifester concrètement ma reconnaissance en faisant un don ou du bénévolat pour l’Agence Ometz. Par contre, dans l’ombre et en mon coeur rempli de fierté et de joie, je prie toujours pour notre communauté juive, pour l’Agence Ometz, pour nos donateurs et pour ceux qui ont besoin d’aide et même à ce niveau, aussi minuscule et insignifiant soit-il, je me sens faire partie de cette formidable chaine d’amour et de soutien que représente l’Agence Ometz.
Je pense que l’Agence Ometz joue un rôle clé dans le bien-être et le sentiment d'adhésion de toute la communauté juive locale dans son ensemble. Et je ne doute pas qu'elle continuera, grâce à D.ieu, à affronter avec succès toutes les difficultés – d'ordre économique, social ou autre – afin de répondre adéquatement à la demande d'aide aux familles et ainsi leur permettre de se relever avec dignité et de mener une vie active et accomplie. hide
Many Thanks to Ometz
Submitted by: Olga D.
I would like to kindly thank Ometz for the great help and significant support that you provided me during the difficult period of my life. Illness, interrupted study, family and financial problem... read more
I would like to kindly thank Ometz for the great help and significant support that you provided me during the difficult period of my life. Illness, interrupted study, family and financial problems - it all came suddenly and simultaneously, seriously complicated my life, and endangered the welfare of my children.
The assistance provided to me at this difficult time by Ometz was like a real salvation. Your material and moral support during this period, as well as during the completion of my studies and professional job search, has allowed me to solve all my problems and start working.
Many thanks to Ometz for the warmth, understanding and kindness! I really appreciate and remember it. This is one of the remarkable achievements of the Jewish community.
Olga D. hide
Submitted by: Anonymous .
I felt compelled to share this note of appreciation, as it seems that so often we only reach out in times of need. Through terrible circumstances, both my wife and I ended up on Ometz’s doorste... read more
I felt compelled to share this note of appreciation, as it seems that so often we only reach out in times of need. Through terrible circumstances, both my wife and I ended up on Ometz’s doorstep, unemployed and desperately in need of help. The Ometz team surrounded us with the compassion and attention with which that most difficult time required. Quickly our despair turned to from doom to hope and Ometz managed to refocus our attention to the task at hand, finding the right situation for both of us.
The amount of attention, and the professional manner in which it was accorded to us, went well beyond our expectations. The phone calls of support and leads from the counsellors, and the many programs at Ometz that we took advantage of were invaluable in helping us to re-enter a job market whose landscape had changed so dramatically since our previous experiences. Without the encouragement, education, and expertise in what Ometz does, I do believe that our successful conclusion to this journey which we have reached, would never have happened.
We thank Ometz and the counselors, for all that they did for us. hide
A Helping Hand
Submitted by: Vanessa Abissidan
Having recently graduated, I was aware that landing a job today isn’t as easy as it may seem. I felt that the process of looking for a position would be much easier if I contacted a recruitment... read more
Having recently graduated, I was aware that landing a job today isn’t as easy as it may seem. I felt that the process of looking for a position would be much easier if I contacted a recruitment agency. A friend of mine put me in contact with Stephanie Steinman from Ometz and the very next day, Stephanie and I were on the phone working on finding me the right position and hopefully, a career.
My relationship with Stephanie was amazing. She was my helping hand throughout the whole process. She helped me with my resume, my interview skills, and put me in contact with the right people. She listened to my needs and wants and presented me with multiple options. What I admired most about Stephanie is that she was always available. Stephanie and I spoke a few times a week and built a very friendly and ongoing relationship.
One of the highlights working with Ometz was their recruitment cocktail event. At my very first meeting, I didn’t know what to expect and was slightly intimidated, but was easily swayed by the warmth in the room and amazing Ometz staff. They made the experience a very comfortable one and I was able to participate and actually enjoyed myself. Following several meetings, we had the official cocktail where candidates had the opportunity to meet and greet with several representatives from very diverse organizations and companies. I felt that Ometz did an amazing job and made sure that all candidates’ needs were met.
In the past, I have worked with other recruitment agencies, but overall, I feel like Ometz has the best approach. It isn’t as bureaucratic as it was in my other experiences. On the contrary, at Ometz I felt like I was going to a family meeting or community activity. I also felt that Ometz’s staff cares about your future and are really passionate in what they do.
Thank you Ometz and especially to Stephanie who made this incredibly painful process, absolutely amazing! hide
Submitted by: Agence Ometz
Bill Kirsch is personable, outgoing, funny - and fond of the sorts of puns that make people groan. He occasionally plays the piano during holiday celebrations at an Agence Ometz program in which... read more
Bill Kirsch is personable, outgoing, funny - and fond of the sorts of puns that make people groan. He occasionally plays the piano during holiday celebrations at an Agence Ometz program in which he participates. "But I have to be keyed up to play the piano," he said, smiling broadly as he delivered the line. His musicality extends to whistling: He's a great whistler.
Kirsch, 57, has lived with serious mental illness for most of his life. He is followed by a team in the psychiatry department of the Jewish General Hospital and he lives in a group home. He is also a client of the mental-health support services team at Agence Ometz - a team working to promote the social integration of people with mental ilnesses.Through the team, Kirsch participates in adult education classes, community programs and outings - activities he says have taught him skills, helped him to make friends and stay busy, and generally enriched his life.
"It is a burden all your life to have to cope with mental illness," he said during an interview in the office of Marcie Klein, manager of the mental-health support services team. "Ometz has helped me to learn important skills." Members of the multi-disciplinary team, who include social workers, special-care counsellors and an adult education teacher/drama therapist, work with about 130 clients, and their work is wide-ranging. As Klein explained, they do everything from organize activities with clients and help those able to live on their own to find apartments - some clients are homeless when they are referred to the service - to assist clients in accessing benefits such as welfare, counselling and employment services. Referrals come from Montreal's network of local health and community service centres, or CLSCs, from hospitals, and internally from within Agence Ometz, a social-service agency. Some of the activities in which Kirsch participates are in collaboration with other organizations, including the English Montreal School Board (EMSB), the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the YM-YWHA. Each week, for instance, he visits the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, where he works with facilitators. The museum is "a priceless gem," he said.
Kirsch enjoys not just viewing artwork but also creating it. He paints, enjoying mediums including oil, acrylic and pastel, and he's part of an art group organized through Klein's team. He has high praise for the volunteer art teacher who runs the group, Cristina Boiles, for how she puts on soft music as they work and provides coffee and cookies. "She tries to bring out our creativity," he said. He takes adult-education classes, given by Dimitra Barnard, a teacher contracted to the service through the EMSB, in topics including stress, anger management, wellness and recovery. Friday mornings, he participates in a cooking class in a community kitchen at a Côte des Neiges Rd. community centre run by Ometz.. "We make dishes like salad and chicken stir-fry with vegetables," Kirsch said. "We also learn budgeting. Then we eat together and take the leftovers home." He has made friends through these programs and, for him, that's huge. "I don't like to feel lonely," he said. "I have to be busy. It is not good for me not to be busy: To stay home and go into my shell makes me isolated. "Going to the programs Ometz organizes has helped me very much - has enriched me so much."
Kirsch has a family connection to Ometz: His late father, Martin Kirsch, was president of Jewish Vocational Services during the 1980s; JVS was the forerunner of Jewish Employment Montreal, which merged with Jewish Family Services and Jewish Immigrant Aid Services in 2009 to form Agence Ometz. "My father did a lot of community work," said Kirsch. "He was an an inspiration for my life. "He said, 'Bill, it is important to have interests in life, bcause then you can talk about anything.'" Seems that Bill Kirsch, musician, student, lover of art, good friend and more, heeded his father's advice. hide
Prepping for the professional world
Submitted by: Jason Druker
I first came to Ometz as a recent graduate of University, in 2011. I had heard of Ometz through word of mouth, from friends who had used their services. As a recent University graduate several ye... read more
I first came to Ometz as a recent graduate of University, in 2011. I had heard of Ometz through word of mouth, from friends who had used their services. As a recent University graduate several years after the economic crisis, finding work was a daunting task. The competition in my field of finance and accounting was pretty fierce, and I needed help to appear marketable and professional to employers.
The employment specialist I saw at Ometz, Cathy Grundman, was extremely helpful. She took the time to really get to know me, and assess my qualities, experience, strengths and difficulties in matching me with employers. She coached me on how to organize my CV, helped prepare me for an interview, and set me up with employers that were hiring in my field.
Several weeks after our meeting, I had a job interview at an accounting firm - Perreault, Wolman, Gryzwacz & Co., and I landed the job. 2 years later I am still working at the firm, as a senior auditor. Ometz is a vital part of the Montreal Community. I want to share my story and thank Ometz for their support in helping young adults like myself find work. The professional world can be an intimidating place for recent grads, and without your support, I don’t know where I would be today. hide
Submitted by: Eva Ohnouna
Bonjour, mon nom est Eva Ohnouna, et je suis immigrante. Ma famille et moi -même avons immigré à Montréal en août 2010. Notre cheminement pour s’installer au Canada n’aurait pu se faire ... read more
Bonjour, mon nom est Eva Ohnouna, et je suis immigrante. Ma famille et moi -même avons immigré à Montréal en août 2010. Notre cheminement pour s’installer au Canada n’aurait pu se faire sans l’aide précieuse de L’Agence Ometz qui nous a suivi tout au long de ce processus, et qui jusqu'à aujourd’hui nous accompagne
Lors de notre démarche pour s’installer au Canada, nous avons contacté L’Agence Ometz qui nous a mis en relation avec un de leur conseillère en pré-migration. Après avoir reçu nos papiers de résidents permanents et lorsque nous avons préparé concrètement notre départ, c’est encore L’Agence Ometz qui nous a mis en contact avec la personne qui nous a aidé à nous établir. Quand est arrivé le moment pour chercher du travail, nous nous sommes tournés vers L’Agence Ometz, et par le biais de leurs services d’emplois, mon époux a trouve un travail. Pour ma part, j’ai démarré ma vie professionnelle au Québec, dans l’enseignement, et petit a petit je me suis fait une place au sein de la communauté juive de Montréal
Aujourd’hui, je suis coordinatrice du département des services académiques et orthopédagogique à l’école Herzliah. Je suis également consultante bénévole à l’AJDS depuis le début de cette année scolaire. Je travaille ponctuellement avec BJEC. A titre de bénévole, je fais également partie du comité pédagogique de l'école Maimonide, qui est l'école de mes enfants. La place que j’ai aujourd’hui au sein de la communauté juive de Montréal, et dans le milieu de l'éducation s’est faite en partie grâce au support de l’Agence Ometz, et notamment de Ruth Najman, qui a toujours cru en moi et que je remercie du fond du coeur pour tout son soutien.
En 2012 je me suis retrouvée au chômage, avec l’angoisse de ne pas trouver un poste correspondant à mes habiletés, j’ai donc envoyé mon CV à Ruth Najman et il a été acheminé à l’école Herzliah, où je travaille actuellement.
Je me suis réorientée car en travaillant en tant qu'enseignante, j’ai réalisé les enjeux des enfants qui sont en difficulté d’apprentissage au sein de notre communauté. J’ai donc décidé de me dédier à cette cause et j’ai entamé un doctorat en Psychopédagogie à l'Université de Montréal. Ma recherche porte essentiellement sur la conception d’un outil d'évaluation qui permettrait d'élaborer des plans d’intervention de façon plus optimal. Grâce à l’obtention de la bourse d'étude pour immigrant de l’Agence Ometz, je peux payer une partie de mes frais de scolarité et cela m’aide considérablement. hide
Monsieur La JIAS
Submitted by: Agence Ometz
Kathy Assayag était une enfant en bas âge lorsqu’elle est arrivée en 1968, de Casablanca au Maroc, à Montréal, avec ses parents dans la vingtaine, ainsi que deux frères et sœurs, avec un... read more
Kathy Assayag était une enfant en bas âge lorsqu’elle est arrivée en 1968, de Casablanca au Maroc, à Montréal, avec ses parents dans la vingtaine, ainsi que deux frères et sœurs, avec un quatrième enfant en route. La famille ne connaissait personne au Canada. Ils sont arrivés avec à peine plus d'une valise et une appréhension compréhensible. « Vous pouvez imaginer le sentiment de vulnérabilité de mes parents », dit-elle.
Rapidement, cependant, les choses ont commencé à se mettre en place, car les Services d'aide aux immigrants juifs (JIAS) ont joué un rôle capital dans l'intégration de sa famille. «J'étais trop jeune pour comprendre, mais il y avait toute une communauté organisée pour nous aider à nous établir ici », a déclaré Kathy Assayag. « JIAS était l’organisme de coordination, son rôle était de vous aider avec le processus d'immigration et de faire en sorte que vous tiriez le meilleur parti des organismes qui vous seraient utiles. »
La famille est arrivée la veille de Roch Hachana. Cette première année, se rappelle-t-elle, nous avons eu de l’aide pour les vêtements d'hiver et les premiers jouets des enfants. « Vous vous souvenez de ces choses lorsque vous commencez avec très peu. Ce qui était vraiment incroyable pour moi, c'est que durant ces premières années avant que mes parents obtiennent un emploi stable, je pensais que JIAS était un homme », dit-elle dans une entrevue. « Je pensais qu'il était, une personne incroyablement aimante et généreuse. »
« Quand mon père disait : « Je vais rencontrer la JIAS», et revenait à la maison avec des manteaux d'hiver pour nous tous, de nouveaux vêtements, des poupées Barbie pour moi et ma sœur, et des camions Tonka pour mes frères, nous étions ravis », a déclaré Kathy Assayag lors d'un discours émouvant quand elle a reçu les honneurs comme une femme d'action au cours d'un événement de la Fondation Israélienne de recherche sur le cancer en 2012. « Et je me souviens m’être dit : qui est ce Monsieur La JIAS? Quand va-t-il à venir pour un dîner de Shabbat? Je l'imaginais grand, imposant, et ce que nous appellerions débonnaire. » Avec le soutien de JIAS, ses parents ont pu s’établir. «Ils ont travaillé dur, économisé assez d'argent pour acheter notre première maison, et nous avons vite été indépendants, n’ayant plus besoin d'aucune aide. » Et à sa manière, Kathy Assayag a passé sa vie à redonner à la Communauté qui l'a aidée. Et elle n'hésite pas à dire que redonner est plus que rembourser une dette. Pour elle, c'est un privilège. Elle a passé des années à travailler pour le compte de la communauté juive de Montréal, occupé des postes de haut niveau dans la société et d’innombrables rôles de bénévoles, et elle a recueilli toutes sortes de distinctions et récompenses. De 2000 à 2005, elle a été Directrice générale de la campagne de l'Appel juif unifié de la Fédération CJA. Elle a passé les six années suivantes à l'Université Concordia, où elle a occupé la double position de Présidente de la Fondation de l'Université et Vice-présidente de la promotion et des relations avec les diplômés.
Et quand elle est partie pour Concordia, la Fédération CJA l’a contacté pour devenir bénévole. Le premier conseil d'administration qu’elle a rejoint était, vous l'aurez deviné, le conseil de JIAS, en 2005. «Participer à ce Conseil était une façon de redonner, une façon d'essayer de rembourser ce qu'ils avaient fait pour ma famille», dit-elle. JIAS a fusionné avec les Services à la famille juive et Emploi Juif Montréal en 2009 pour former un nouvel organisme, l'Agence Ometz. Kathy Assayag a été invitée à siéger sur son premier conseil d'administration. Elle a démissionné l'automne dernier, mais a continué à faire du bénévolat pour le gala annuel de collecte de fonds de l'organisme, Dessine-moi une étoile, qui aura lieu le 8 avril à la Place des Arts. Parmi ses responsabilités bénévoles, elle est membre du conseil du Centre Segal des arts de la scène ainsi que du conseil du Collège Vanier, où elle est l'un des deux parents élus. Sa fille cadette est à Vanier, la plus âgée étudie la médecine à l'Université de Sherbrooke. Kathy Assayag fait un travail de consultation pour les organismes sans but lucratif et le gouvernement, et elle travaille à temps partiel à la Fondation communautaire juive de Montréal, où elle deviendra Directrice générale en septembre. «J'ai bouclé la boucle», dit-elle, "C’est comme si je revenais à la maison." hide
My Montreal Job Hunt
Submitted by: Joshua Salzberg
I can safely say that finding a job would have been nearly impossible without the help of Ometz, as well as my counselor, Stephanie Steinman. For five months, I went through the highs and lows of... read more
I can safely say that finding a job would have been nearly impossible without the help of Ometz, as well as my counselor, Stephanie Steinman. For five months, I went through the highs and lows of the job hunt, getting so close, yet so far. During this time, it was hard to maintain a positive attitude with the constant interviewing, waiting, and rejection. I found out about Ometz because some friends of mine mentioned it to me a few years ago while I was still in school. In the end, it was the people at this very organization, specifically Stephanie, who helped keep my spirits up and assisted me in moving on to the next application or interview.
A lot of employers were hesitant or even turned off by my education, a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology. Despite my valuable work experience in a number of fields, and reference letters to back up my performance, I was turned down many times. Stephanie was able to get to know my strengths and interests through my resume and a handful of meetings. I believe this was an important benefit for me, as she was able to get to know me as more than just a resume.
Perhaps the most important aspect is the fact that Ometz helps keep young people in Montreal. Everybody that I know over the age of 30 insisted I move to Calgary or Toronto or Ottawa, to which I replied with a chuckle. It seems that according to everyone in Montreal, there is no future here; the future is everywhere else in Canada, but Montreal is where I want to be and leaving was never an option for me.
Thanks to Ometz, many local job seekers have found or will find jobs in Montreal, which helps develop and support the local community. For that reason, Ometz does a lot more than simply find jobs for people. As a Sociology Major, I can attest to this. They help develop relationships and assure that the community remains intact and strong. I can go on for hours recounting stories about cousins, friends or various other individuals from the Jewish community, as well as Montreal community, who had to take their families elsewhere because they were too frustrated with the job market in Montreal. I truly believe that the organization’s recent graduate program is vital for the well-being of the Jewish community because, as I have been told since I was a child, young people are the future. hide
Tommy Schnurmacher's Story
Submitted by: Agence Ometz
Many Montrealers know Tommy Schnurmacher as a journalist, a radio talk-show host and a political commentator. Since 1996, he has been host of The Tommy Schnurmacher Show, a talk show airing week... read more
Many Montrealers know Tommy Schnurmacher as a journalist, a radio talk-show host and a political commentator. Since 1996, he has been host of The Tommy Schnurmacher Show, a talk show airing weekday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon on CJAD 800. He is smart and well-informed and opinionated: The tagline on the station’s website describing his show calls it controversial and compelling – and it’s decidedly both.
What many do not know about Tommy, though, is that he was born in Budapest, Hungary – and that when he arrived in Montreal with his parents in 1957, following the revolution in that country, they were helped by Jewish Immigrant Aid Services. “We left in 1956 after the confusion of the revolution,” Tommy recalled. “We left in the middle of the night, drove to the countryside and were taken across the border into Austria,” he recounted.
The family had left with few possessions. “We figured there was no point in bringing gold or silver because the streets were paved with them,” he recalled, tongue in cheek. Tommy, a small boy at the time, said he was was given the choice of two toys: his little toy mandolin or his wooden streetcar. “I chose the mandolin – and started to play it when we were crossing the border,” he recounted. “So they broke the mandolin over my head – and I had a headache and no toys.” The family traveled to Montreal from Vienna, arriving in 1957. “And JIAS was nice enough to provide us with blankets,” he said.
He said he did not remember details of the blankets, such as the colour. He was, after all, a small child. “But I am sure my mother still has them since she throws nothing out,” he quipped. In 2008, JIAS, Jewish Family Services and Jewish Employment Montreal merged to become a single agency known as Ometz. But the agencies brought to the merger their own stories and histories: The forerunner of JFS was established in Montreal by community leaders 150 years ago, for instance. And JIAS, established in 1922, has helped hundreds of thousands of Jewish immigrants to establish new lives in Canada – Tommy and his parents were among them.
Tommy holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from McGill University and a journalism degree from Carleton University. For more than 15 years, he wrote a daily entertainment column for the The Montreal Gazette and, for a time, was the paper’s society editor. He has written a book on Quebec politics, Canada is not a Real Country, published in 1996. He got his start in radio at CHOM-FM, doing reviews of movies and plays. Tommy has several other notches in his professional belt: As his bio at cjad.com states, he hosted a cross-country radio show with former Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell, for instance, and played the part of an orchestra conductor in a 2000 sci-fi comedy starring Leslie Nielsen. Tommy was master of ceremonies at a JFS/JIAS fundraiser in 2005 – the screening of a film called Gloomy Sunday, a romantic melodrama set in Budapest before and during the Holocaust. The event raised $100,000. That evening, he described to the more than 750 people in attendance his family’s journey from Hungary – and talked about how JIAS and the Jewish community had helped his family when they arrived in Montreal. hide
Thank you very much for being such a good friend!
Submitted by: S. N.
Dear Agence Ometz, Thank you very much for being such a good friend! Particularly many thanks to Galina - for all her help and care! I remember the first day I met with Galina very well. S... read more
Dear Agence Ometz, Thank you very much for being such a good friend! Particularly many thanks to Galina - for all her help and care! I remember the first day I met with Galina very well. She embraced me as though she was my mother. She listened to me very attentively and provided me with her advice and support. Being new to Canada, I had plenty of questions: - How to integrate better into Quebec and Canadian society? - What is required in order to find a first workplace in Canada? - Where to go to improve my language skills (both French and English)? - Where to study to pursue my dreams in career and professional development?
Galina personally took care of my CV. I attended Galina's Resume Preparation Courses at Agence Ometz, which were the unique courses on the subject I have ever taken in my life. Galina provided me with the detailed Resume Preparation booklets. She corrected my resume and supporting letters and explained in detail which points are better to emphasize in order to be selected for a job interview.
From my experience I am convinced that a thoroughly prepared resume and supporting letters play the most important role in finding a workplace of our dream. After sending a CV to my first workplace in Canada - to the position of a production manager in the medium-size high-tech company, the HR representative called me in half an hour. And later, when I was looking for even higher position in the industry, the owner of the firm invited me to the interview the next day, saying: "After reading your resume, I decided to call you right away ".
I attended a lot of interesting courses, lectures, and workshops with great lecturers at Agence Ometz. Particularly, I enjoyed the following courses and workshops: CV Writing & Interview Skills, Accessing the Hidden Job Market, French Conversation Club, Women's Club, Quebec Tax System Information Session, Buying Your First House in Canada, Investing In Your Family's Future, Smart Shopping Montreal (with Sandra Phillips)
All the services and programs offered by Agence Ometz are absolutely vital and interesting for everyone. And those services are created by the most precious asset that Agence Ometz has - the people, the family that we are looking for here in Canada, our home. hide
Submitted by: Max K
I was first seen at Jewish Vocational Services at the end of 2002. For somebody who was used to wake up every morning and go to work unemployment was not an easy pill to swallow. It was hard not ... read more
I was first seen at Jewish Vocational Services at the end of 2002. For somebody who was used to wake up every morning and go to work unemployment was not an easy pill to swallow. It was hard not only financially but also mentally. I am sure most new immigrants are going through the same experience. After 6 months without employment I was about to give up. I don’t remember exactly how I learnt about JVS but it was a turning point of my career. I was fortunate to have Galina as my Employment Counsellor. She helped me tremendously to get my lost self confidence back. Galina taught me job search skills that have been helping me in my career in Canada. She became my Mentor. Then on top of everything I was offered a job at JVS. My first job in Canada! It was 6 months contract. From day one I felt like I’ve known all these wonderful people at JVS for years. It felt like a family to me. Though I don’t live in Montreal Galina and I have been in touch for 10 years. Congratulations to OMETZ! hide
Helping My Children Succeed
Submitted by: C. F.
Let me take you back a couple of years to explain how Ometz came into my life. I have three beautiful children, Baruch Hashem. They have struggled with various needs since they began daycare. I h... read more
Let me take you back a couple of years to explain how Ometz came into my life. I have three beautiful children, Baruch Hashem. They have struggled with various needs since they began daycare. I have had shadows, psychoeducators, speech and occupational therapist and, of course, social workers working with them to overcome their many hurdles. Ometz has been there for me from the start.
Unless a person has experienced what I have, one could not imagine the fear or the pain that a parent has to deal with throughout. It is thanks to your team of specialists that I can deal with these negative feelings and transform them into positive ones. The help my children received from Ometz came in various forms: from support that was crucial for giving them the opportunity to attend Tell-It Dire Speech Camp, to the vital visits from the Occupational and Speech Therapists who have come to know my children well.
Moreover and in particular, I want to take the time to mention Ms. Deborah Groper who has helped me tremendously by taking the time and effort to talk to me when I needed to be heard. The Ometz team has allowed my three kids to appreciate what it means to learn: to love it and to seek it. What more could a parent ask for? Yes, it is true that they have had to struggle in school and socially, and that they continue to do so. However, I like to look into the future, not the past, and not even the present. As I look ahead towards the long and winding road, stretching far behind me, every turn means discovery, old hope, new laughter and shared happy tears.
With Hashem’s help I feel confident that my children will always be healthy and successful, and will grow into accomplished adults. I will have Ometz to thank for helping to get them there. Ometz has become part of my family and Hashem has blessed us with the opportunity to be associated with such an amazing organization. The depth of words can never really capture the emotions that are ingrained within them. I hope that my message rings loud and clear in support of Ometz and its dedicated staff. hide
Seeking the Right Career
Submitted by: Lisa Peters
I am writing to the team at Ometz, for the exemplary help, guidance and warmth I received in embarking on a new start in my career. Your professionalism and wisdom were completely effective in na... read more
I am writing to the team at Ometz, for the exemplary help, guidance and warmth I received in embarking on a new start in my career. Your professionalism and wisdom were completely effective in navigating me through the often stormy waters encountered in finding a new job. I was amazed at how quickly you created highly effective improvements for each CV I prepared, as well as each cover letter. You helped me to understand the importance of including the specific experience I had that was relative to each job description. You guided me through each step, from the initial search and CV writing, to the role playing of an interview, follow-up thank you letters, and ultimately—the job acceptance!
You enabled me to make the right decision, by providing valuable information to me and telling me to follow my gut instinct. You were instrumental in helping me finding the right job, which I did, with your assistance, in three weeks.
The computer classes I took: Excel, LinkedIn and Your Space, allowed me to learn new skills and connect with others, who like me, were turning their lives around in a new direction, and seeking the right career. What I was able to learn from the Ometz team was so effective that I felt confident and in charge of my destiny as I walked into each interview. With the two jobs that I was asked to interview for, I received second interviews for both, which resulted in two job offers! I happily chose the one best suited to me right now.
I have found that Ometz was highly respected in the community and marketplace, and that you offered not just expertise, but care. hide
I never imagined myself on the receiving end
Submitted by: Lisa Caplan
My parents - even my grandparents, held leadership roles all through my childhood into young aunthood in the community, particularly at JFS when it was still BdH. My mom is even a past president ... read more
My parents - even my grandparents, held leadership roles all through my childhood into young aunthood in the community, particularly at JFS when it was still BdH. My mom is even a past president and on summer breaks and between schools I did temp work in the offices so I knew how our community went about raising funds and knew we provided tons of care to our community.
Over the years I have turned to JEM for help finding employment (successfully) but I really didn't anticipate that I would become a client at Ometz. The crystal ball I had growing up in Hampstead had neither disability nor financial distress in it's reflections. But I left Montreal as a young teen for boarding school and didn't return permanently until I got injured in 2001. After a series of failed spinal surgeries I found myself disabled. Shortly thereafter I married a Gentile and had a child. Not long after that, I became unable to work out of the home. And finally the last of my family migrated to the US. So at around 36 years of age I found myself extremely isolated from the Montreal Jewish Community and turned to Ometz for help giving my son a Jewish upbringing, to provide social work services for us both as we strived to integrate our peculiar circumstances into the norm, and for social support in general. Our worker has always made herself available providing me with emotional support and us with everything from holiday baskets with the items needed to properly follow holiday traditions to synagogue-based play groups for my son and most recently by subsidizing his summers at Camp YCC.
My case worker, knowing that driving to the city (from the West Island) and parking are hard for me, and also knowing that I am often very isolated once met us outside Cummings House, helped us park, and then spent a VERY significant amount of time just hanging out in the park giving my son the activity and attention he craved and me the human contact I needed. That day it didn't feel like we had a social worker, it felt like I had a friend. The biggest gift, however, has been the YCC subsidy. Because of the camp's and Ometz's largesse my son has spent two summers in a Jewish environment having a wonderful time and learning about the community of which he is very much a member.
We still need help and can't give back in traditional ways, but I make sure my son knows that the quality of life we have - quite high for people in our circumstances - comes in large measure from the generosity of the Jewish Community directly and indirectly. Growing up the child of two disabled parents my son is an unusually empathetic child and I have no doubt that he will give back and represent our family in a volunteer and later leadership capacity.
If we never got another thing beyond the camp subsidies we would be forever grateful, but I rest easy - despite not having the money or training to, say, prepare my son for his Bar Mitzvah - knowing that help will be available not only to pass the milestone but to absorb its meaning. I hope Ometz continues to help me teach my son how to be a helpful and active participant in the Montreal Jewish community. As an almost-typical Jewish mother, but one with almost any real community or extended family of her own, I can't begin to express how much being included in this greater whole means. hide
une merveilleuse découverte
Submitted by: ELIE BENCHETRIT
Lors de mon travail en tant que directeur des relations publiques de la CSUQ et de Directeur de la publication de la Voix Sépharade, j'ai plusieurs fois l'occasion de fréquenter des professionn... read more
Lors de mon travail en tant que directeur des relations publiques de la CSUQ et de Directeur de la publication de la Voix Sépharade, j'ai plusieurs fois l'occasion de fréquenter des professionnels des agences JEM, JFS et JIAS et puis à la suite de leur fusion, Ometz.
Je n'ai pas eu l'occasion d'avoir eu recours aux services de Ometz, mais je suis convaincu que ce serait fort possible d'avoir à solliciter des services pour des personnes qui me sont proches.
Je suis à la retraite de la CSUQ depuis 2 ans après avoir passé près de 21 ans dans le communautaire. Pour m'occuper un peu, j'ai choisi de me lancer dans la traduction de textes anglais vers le français et grâce à mes connaissances parmi les professionnels d'Ometz, j'ai pu devenir leur traducteur. Au cours des textes que j'ai traduit je me suis rendu compte du rôle central que cette agence joue au sein de la communauté juive montréalaise et ce dans plusieurs domaines. J'ai été fortement impressionné pour son action auprès des jeunes à risques, des gens avec des déficiences intellectuelles, des nouveaux immigrants, des jeunes diplômés à la recherche d'un emploi etc.. J'ai été surpris d'apprendre que cette institution fête son 150ème anniversaire et que l'esprit juif d'entraide et de tikun olam est toujours vivant auprès de notre communauté grâce à des bénévoles généreux et des professionnels dévoués. Notre communauté a une chance inouïe de pouvoir compter sur Ometz. J'ai un de mes enfants qui vient de terminer ses études universitaires de 2ème cycle. Evidemment il est à la recherche d'un premier emploi et je l'ai encouragé à prendre rendez-vous avec une conseillère d'Ometz. Il va le faire dans les jours qui suivent et j'ose espérer qu'il pourra avoir avec un peu de chance une porte d'entrée vers le marché du travail.
En m'impliquant, comme je l'ai toujours fait au sein de ma communauté et en participant à certains programmes communautaires. Ce sera un rôle crucial qui devra permettre de préserver le caractère unique et vibrant de la communauté juive montréalaise face aux nombreux défis qu'elle devra relever. hide
Those were the days my friend.....
Submitted by: Gail Krasner
I was first seen at Contact ProMontreal after graduating from Special Care Counselling. I needed a job and I needed one quickly. I remember being interviewed by Alice Ohayon, my very first contac... read more
I was first seen at Contact ProMontreal after graduating from Special Care Counselling. I needed a job and I needed one quickly. I remember being interviewed by Alice Ohayon, my very first contact in terms of an employment agency. She made me feel at ease, and promised to do all she could for me. I left that day thinking my future would be bright and successful and Contact ProMontreal would be the ones to help me.
I remember a lot of special times, and special people (staff and clients). I went on from Contact ProMontreal to Jewish Vocational Service where I worked as a job development professional and then to become a young adult employment counselor. The biggest accomplishment was helping people find work just like I was helped when I entered the agency years before.
Today I am giving back by working with the most vulnerable of our community. I have been at the JEM Workshop Inc. since 2002. I have learned many things from my employees. One of the strongest lessons has been acceptance. All 82 of our employees accept each others strengths and weaknesses and remain devoted to each other no matter what. It has taught me to listen, learn and accept individuals as well as myself without judgment. We are all productive members of society - and should be proud of what we do.
Continuing to help the vulnerable, making a difference in people's lives so that one day when they are in a position to help - they give it back. hide
Ometz: Une Main Tendue
Submitted by: Margot Spiegelman
Je suis arrivée en 1965, en provenance du Maroc, avec mon mari et mon fils. Malheureusement les choses sont devenues difficiles avec mon mari et nous avons dû nous séparer. Cela a été un gra... read more
Je suis arrivée en 1965, en provenance du Maroc, avec mon mari et mon fils. Malheureusement les choses sont devenues difficiles avec mon mari et nous avons dû nous séparer. Cela a été un grand choc pour mon jeune fils de 3 ans qui ne comprenait pas ce qui arrivait à sa famille. En 1968 j’étais seule pour assurer le quotidien, l’éducation de mon fils et je devais travailler. J’ai décidé alors de chercher de l’aide pour lui et j’ai été recommandée par une connaissance à ce qui s’appelait alors « Les services à la famille juive de l’institut Baron de Hirsch ». Un petit bureau sur Van Horne, avec deux personnes, dont celle qui s’est occupée de moi.
Ce dont je me rappelle c’est de l’accueil chaleureux, du support moral, de l’aide émotionnelle, de l’empathie de cette personne. Elle a été mon introduction dans la Communauté. Sa première action pour mon fils a été de l’inscrire gratuitement à un camp de jour. Elle nous a aussi recommandés auprès d'un psychologue à Ste Justine.
À cette époque je travaillais dans un contexte difficile qui ne respectait pas les employés. Ma conseillère m’a informée sur mes droits et donné les ressources pour les faire respecter. Son support a été inestimable. Nous sommes ensuite restées longtemps en contact et elle est venue à la Bar Mitsvah de mon fils. Je garde un excellent souvenir d’elle !
J’ai depuis ce temps toujours participé à des actions bénévoles au sein de la Communauté. Pendant 12 ans j’ai été représentante de la Communauté sépharade du Québec auprès du CA des Services à la famille juive, maintenant intégrés dans l’Agence Ometz. Aujourd’hui encore on m’appelle souvent pour distribuer des repas, lever des fonds, collaborer avec le Centre Cummings pour aînés, ou tout autre besoin. Je réponds toujours avec plaisir !
Mon ressenti est que la Communauté dans son ensemble est centrée sur le fait de venir en aide à des personnes durant des moments difficiles de leur vie. Chacun peut un jour en avoir besoin et continuer à tendre la main pour faire une différence dans la vie des gens est essentiel. Sans doute qu’avec le temps les besoins évolueront. Je sais qu’Ometz sera capable de développer des services en fonction de cela! hide
Submitted by: Laurie Betito
When I was a teenager my mom worked for JFS as an administrative assistant, and I remember walking the halls as a young kid. It’s possible that these experiences had an influence on my decision... read more
When I was a teenager my mom worked for JFS as an administrative assistant, and I remember walking the halls as a young kid. It’s possible that these experiences had an influence on my decision to go into social work. After I received my degree, I didn’t want to work anywhere but JFS. The environment was so comfortable which really eased me into my first job. I still have very fond memories and keep in touch with my contacts even though I only worked there for two years. I still have many good friends from when I worked there; it always felt like a family to me. I decided to go back to school to pursue Psychology, but stayed close to the organization as a member of the marketing and media relations committee. I later found myself on the Board of Directors, which I loved because it was really nice to be sitting around the table with people I knew as a kid.
Not only did they give me my first job, but they believed in me. I was a young girl right out of university and they took a chance on me, even though I had no experience, and I never forgot the support I felt working at this organization.
I worked in the department of Youth Protection, which is very difficult and heavy. I had an amazing team which made the work that much more gratifying. My best memories include having meetings with Steve Solomon and learning from him. It is because of the organization that I went into psychology: I dealt with a lot of sex abuse cases and was asked to give a talk at UQAM. Through that talk I met Ellen Moss, and I was able to do my PHD with her.
I have given back over the years by sitting on various committees’ in the Jewish community, such as Federation CJA committees. I also refer my clients to Ometz that need the extra support or have financial difficulties.
Ometz should continue to do what they’re doing, helping the impoverished. Looking forward, Ometz should also consider playing more of a role in assisting the aging population. hide
Submitted by: Katherine Korakakis
I had just finished university and was excited to start my career. I was always a good student who studied hard and achieved academically as a result. Unfortunately, I had never been taught how t... read more
I had just finished university and was excited to start my career. I was always a good student who studied hard and achieved academically as a result. Unfortunately, I had never been taught how to write a CV or how to interview. Not having these skills made it very difficult to attract potential employers. I didn’t have the proper tools to access the job market and therefore, I decided to call Contact Pro Montreal.
I was taught how to write a CV, how to behave in an interview, how to dress for an interview and how to access the hidden job market. I became a much more interesting candidate to prospective employers and found a job because of this.
Coming back as a professional later on, I am constantly thanking the woman who helped me get my first job. I wouldn’t be where I am today otherwise.
Today I work at Ometz as coordinator of entrepreneurship. I always tell the clients I help, not to forget about the community that helped them. That when they achieve what it is they set out to achieve that they should help the next person achieve, in whatever way they can. I see Ometz as an enabler; they enable people to reach their potential whatever that may be. They provide people with the tools that enable them to help themselves; and that in my opinion is the best type of help an organization can give.
I feel the need to reiterate the importance of having this organization in community. It is important because once you have reached that stability, you forget how hard it is in the beginning. We need to make sure the younger generation is supported in order for them to reach their potential and have a successful future. Ometz helps everyone across the board regardless of means. It gives us all an equal shot and paves the way for future success. The organization develops people’s skills and takes steps towards independence in numerous ways, therefore allowing people to benefit from so many more opportunities than they originally thought possible. hide
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