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.
Speaking The Same Language
Submitted by: Taly Zisman
My first contact with Ometz was during the first month of my immigration to Canada in November 2012. My friends spoke about this agency and I thought it was a very good idea for me and my husband... read more
My first contact with Ometz was during the first month of my immigration to Canada in November 2012. My friends spoke about this agency and I thought it was a very good idea for me and my husband because we needed some help to find jobs and other things that could help us integrate in Canada better. We arrived at Ometz and we spoke with some people who were able to help us.
Ometz helped me in a lot of ways. For example, I took some courses and workshops at Ometz for career training, and I learned how to write a CV and practiced interview skills. Ometz also gave me the opportunity to travel to Quebec City and everyone on the trip was so friendly. We also did a little trip to Montreal and found many new places, like a synagogue. We also had a lot of questions about where to learn or how to register for language courses. In the summer of 2013, I took an English course at Ometz at the intermediate level that lasted one month. After this, I began speaking with Laura.
I want to talk about Laura a little bit because she helped me find a job. She was patient and attentive to my issues. She gave me a lot of ideas about how to find a job in a successful way. We had been in touch by phone and email. Laura called me and she asked me “how are you?”, and questioned what my future plans were, and she was very friendly. After this I spoke with Laura in person and she learned about my work experience and she gave me some ideas on how to find a job in Montreal because it’s difficult with two languages and it’s important to speak both of them. She encouraged me to take courses at Ometz that helped me find a job.
I think Ometz is very important. When we arrived from Israel it was the first organization to help us because they have a lot of experience for adapting immigrants in Montreal and they understand our problems and background. Also, they spoke our languages: Hebrew and sometimes Russian. All my friends that arrived from Israel have a lot of communication with Ometz. I know many people that found jobs with the help of Ometz. hide
Une fin heureuse à une histoire triste
Submitted by: L. et famille
Après 20 ans de mariage, 4 enfants et une routine de vie bien installée, rien ne laissait présager que nous aurions un jour besoin que l’Agence Ometz vienne à notre secours. Bien loin de n... read more
Après 20 ans de mariage, 4 enfants et une routine de vie bien installée, rien ne laissait présager que nous aurions un jour besoin que l’Agence Ometz vienne à notre secours. Bien loin de nous de penser que les donations que nous faisions régulièrement aux divers organismes d’entraide à la famille juive n’étaient qu’un prêt et que bientôt nous en serions les bénéficiaires.
C’est arrivé…du jour au lendemain… et sans avertissement la face de notre monde a changé. Le désespoir, la douleur, l’angoisse et personne vers qui se tourner, tout en même temps et même plus, un véritable tsunami. Et la honte. La honte, l’humiliation de devoir demander de l’aide…hors de question pour mon mari d’aller mendier, hors de question de montrer le visage de mes enfants, j’ai dû me résigner, pour la survie de ma famille, à pousser la porte de l’Agence Ometz.
Les débuts de ma relation avec l'Agence restent confus dans ma mémoire, mon cerveau a sûrement choisi d’occulter certains souvenirs pour me permettre d’avancer…mais, ce que je n’oublierai jamais, ce sont la compassion, l’écoute, l’aide, l’efficacité et l’accompagnement. Et, avant tout, un visage, celui de Sandy. À coups de conseils, d’aide et de remontrances parfois, elle nous a guidés jusqu’à que nous puissions voir la lumière au bout du tunnel. Grâce aux différents services au sein d’une même agence, j’ai pu bénéficier de l’aide d’un psychologue, du service de placement qui m’a trouvé un emploi que j’occupe encore 8 ans plus tard, du service de gestion de ma paye et de bourses pour les camps d’été et l’école.
Le chemin a été ardu, douloureux et incertain parfois, mais ceci est mon histoire, celle qui me fera toujours mal, mais que j’avais l’obligation morale de partager avec vous pour vous faire comprendre que l’Agence Ometz est un besoin vital pour notre communauté.
Merci à l'Agence Ometz, merci Sandy et tous les autres, grâce à votre expertise et votre compassion vous avez su donner une fin heureuse à une histoire triste. Ma famille ne vous remerciera jamais assez.
Avec notre gratitude éternelle
L. et famille hide
Pour le bien-être et la réussite de nos enfants
Submitted by: Anonyme .
Mon premier contact avec l’Agence Ometz fut en mai 2013. La travailleuse sociale de l’école de mon enfant a suggéré que ma fille se joigne à l’un des groupes de l’Agence Ometz qui se ... read more
Mon premier contact avec l’Agence Ometz fut en mai 2013. La travailleuse sociale de l’école de mon enfant a suggéré que ma fille se joigne à l’un des groupes de l’Agence Ometz qui se rencontrait deux fois par semaine. Ma fille a des difficultés à maintenir des relations sociales stables et harmonieuses. À l’Agence Ometz, le personnel responsable des groupes-rencontres travaille avec les enfants afin d’améliorer leurs habiletés sociales.
Dans ces groupes, l’accent est mis sur l’aide et le support afin que nos enfants puissent développer leurs habiletés sociales et ainsi mieux interagir avec leurs pairs. L’Agence Ometz a aidé ma fille en valorisant chacun de ses progrès, en sachant être à l’écoute de ses besoins et en travaillant à développer son sens des responsabilités. Bien entendu, le personnel de ces groupes-rencontres est très patient, enthousiaste, positif, chaleureux et affectueux. Justin, Catherine, Tamara, Nathan, Gill… Ils agissent avec tellement de douceur et de gentillesse qu’aujourd’hui, pour ma fille, aller à l’Agence Ometz est la meilleure des récompenses.
Ce qui m’a le plus marquée à l’Agence Ometz, c’est l’accueil du personnel à l’arrivée des enfants. Après une journée d’école, les enfants sont plutôt fatigués. Ma fille finit sa journée d’école à 16 heures et elle arrive à l’Agence Ometz vers 16:30. Elle est toujours accueillie avec un sourire contagieux et des paroles encourageantes et personnalisées . Malgré leur journée de travail ou d’école, le personnel de l’Agence Ometz agit avec amour et douceur, avec patience et bonté.
L’Agence Ometz a un avenir des plus prometteurs auprès des enfants. En effet, le sérieux et le dévouement du personnel de l’Agence Ometz font de leur travail et des résultats qui en découlent, la fierté des responsables de cette agence. En tant que parent, c’est avec beaucoup de sérénité et de satisfaction que je dépose ma fille à l’Agence Ometz. Aujourd’hui, c`est avec beaucoup d’émotions que je remercie vivement toute l’équipe de l’Agence Ometz qui ne recule devant rien pour le bien-être et la réussite de nos enfants. À l’Agence Ometz, je dis BRAVO et qu’Hachem vous éclaire et vous bénisse dans votre entreprise d’aide a autrui! hide
Victor Goldbloom Shares his Story
Submitted by: Agence Ometz
Victor Goldbloom, a pediatrician by profession, has worn many – and varied – professional and community hats, and made myriad contributions to the fabric of Quebec society. He is both a Compa... read more
Victor Goldbloom, a pediatrician by profession, has worn many – and varied – professional and community hats, and made myriad contributions to the fabric of Quebec society. He is both a Companion of the Order of Canada and an Officer of the Ordre Nationale du Québec. Although he will celebrate his 91st birthday this summer, he is still active. He is chairman of the Board of the Regional Council on Health and Social Services of Montreal, and chairman of the National Advisory Council to the Canadian Institute of Child Health. Goldbloom spent thirteen years in provincial politics and served as the first minister of state responsible for the quality of the environment and, later, as minister of municipal affairs and environment minister. After leaving politics in 1979, he spent eight years as president and CEO of the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews, now the Canadian Centre for Diversity. From 1991 to 1999, he was Canada’s fourth Commissioner of Official Languages.
In 2000, Goldbloom became head of a joint Jewish Immigrant Aid Services of Montreal and Federation CJA task force on immigration. The demographics of the Jewish community had been below replacement level for some time, he explained, and as the community had diminished in size, services and institutions had diminished proportionately. Community leader Steven Cummings saw immigration as a source of new human resources. A taskforce chaired by Lynne Kassie and Michael Vineberg had confirmed his hypothesis, and it was in this climate that Goldbloom was asked to head the taskforce that had been promoting immigration as its mandate.
Against the backdrop of a collapse of Argentina’s economy in 2002, Goldbloom and other Jewish community leaders travelled three times to Buenos Aires, home to most of the country’s 180,000 Jews, to meet with community leaders there and to make it clear they weren't being predatory but responsive. “I went with a certain amount of hesitation because, when a community is in trouble, you want to be supportive – and attracting young people away is not supportive,” Goldbloom said. He was prepared to be diplomatic, he said, but it was clear that young people were ready to leave. The economic crisis meant it was difficult for young people to find work and in many cases their parents, who were retired or ready to retire, had lost their savings. “On that basis, we started to receive a flow of people from Argentina,” he recalled. JIAS worked with HIAS, an American charitable organization with offices all over the world, including Argentina. A representative hired by JIAS there “was a wonderful resource,” Goldbloom recalled. “And then we were hit with budget cutbacks, so we didn’t continue. But for two years we were an active presence.”
Around the same period as Argentinian Jews were coming to Montreal, there was also some immigration from France. It was motivated in part by manifestations of anti-Semitism, but also by the attraction of the quality of life offered by Quebec, he said. The majority of Argentinian Jews who came to Montreal arrived between 2000 and 2005; some returned to Argentina once the economic situation had stabilized. According to the 2011 National Household Survey, there were 445 Jews from Argentina living in Montreal, 315 of whom had arrived since 2000, and 1,755 Jews from France. When the stories out of France began to surface about a resurgence of anti-Semitism, Goldbloom recalled, the same kind of contact was undertaken as in Argentina. The psychology of it was different, though. “France is very negative about emigration,” he said, “and the Jewish community goes along with that.”
Although the community has asked the government to be more vigilant about anti-Semitism, Jews are not leaving in large numbers, he said. That said, there has been a fair amount of aliyah, both from Argentina and from France, he observed. French is prominent in Israel, with 15 to 20 per cent of the country’s population able to speak the language. “We always said, ‘Your first choice should be aliyah. If it is not aliyah, think about us. We are a good and welcoming community.’”
In 2008 JIAS Montreal, Jewish Employment Montreal and Jewish Family Services were merged into a new agency, Agence Ometz. Although Ometz has an immigration committee, JIAS ceased to exist as an autonomous organization. Goldbloom had high praise for JIAS, calling it “a dynamic organization, with a strategic sense of how to appraoch different countries.” He had high praise also for Shellie Ettinger, who was executive director of the agency during his term as head of the task force and then later, as president of JIAS. “She was a great leader – intelligent and sensitive,” he said. “It was a top-notch organization under her leadership.”hide
Standing Up for Jewish Family Services
Submitted by: Oscar Respitz
I’m a lawyer, and when I graduated law school in the 50s I joined the firm of Max Kaufman, who was then very active in Baron de Hirsch. He got me involved in the childcare and youth services co... read more
I’m a lawyer, and when I graduated law school in the 50s I joined the firm of Max Kaufman, who was then very active in Baron de Hirsch. He got me involved in the childcare and youth services committee. I then became an officer and became president of the agency in 1970 and remained president until 1972.
The Quebec government at the time, under Bourassa, passed what became known as Bill 65 which was effectively an expropriation of all family and youth-related agencies of the province. This was unacceptable to the Board and the Jewish Community. We therefore fought the government and traveled to Quebec City to do so. Our main purpose was to retain our Jewish clientele, character and identity. The government even wanted us to change the name of our agency. We were partially successful and the enforcement of the bill became more relaxed. Eventually, it disappeared entirely. That was a very important part of my presidency, and is the project that stands out the most to me.
During my time in office at JFS, an association of Jewish family agencies of North America was created. I was a founding board member and eventually became the 4th president of that association. It was interesting because we met a few times a year, and it gave me an opportunity to interact with other agencies, contribute to, and learn things from them. This too was a highlight of my presidency. hide
Our Responsibility to Help Others
Submitted by: Barry Shapiro
When I got involved Ometz was JIAS, and the origin of my interest probably goes back to 1948 when my late father Joseph Shapiro was its President. I was eight years old at the time and I remember... read more
When I got involved Ometz was JIAS, and the origin of my interest probably goes back to 1948 when my late father Joseph Shapiro was its President. I was eight years old at the time and I remember my parents hosting a brunch on Sundays at different times of the year with all of these “strange” people coming into our home. I later learned that these were immigrants coming to Canada from Europe, post-World War II with nothing but the clothes on their backs and their courage and determination to succeed. This experience, as well as others, brought me up with the notion that it is important to help others.
I think I was the president in 1988-89, and at that time we hosted the Ethiopian immigration to Montreal. As I recall, I am proud that Canada was one of the few ports that enabled Ethiopian Jews to leave Ethiopia and come here. We received a delightful community of Ethiopians, many of whom I’m still friendly with today. These young people have celebrated bar mitzvahs and bat mizvahs of their own children. While the Ethiopian community in Montreal is small, relative to the one in Israel, they’re a wonderful addition to our Jewish community.
One of the projects was that I reached out to the senior partners at law and accounting firms to lend us some of their bright young professionals to join our board. By way of example, Herb Siblin, C.A. recommended Bobby Kleinman, C.A. to our Board. Of course the community has benefitted so significantly from:- 1) Bobby’s involvement as a professional, both at JIAS and at the Jewish Community Foundation; and 2) From many other young professionals who then became involved in other communal efforts. I was very pleased with that initiative.
I remember my involvement in JIAS impacted me significantly when my wife and I went to Russia just before Glasnost and Perestroika, when Jews were not allowed to leave Russia. We met these refuseniks in their cramped apartments. They were highly intelligent and skilled but, in many instances, were not allowed to practice their professions and, clearly, not their religion. I felt strongly that these vibrant people were entitled to exodus from Russia and world Jewry, Israel and the United States made this happen. Israel would not be the country that it is today without that exodus and the immigration of a million Jews from Russia. On a much smaller scale, Montreal also benefitted tremendously from the arrival of some of our Jewish Russian brothers and sisters.
I feel very strongly that since I was so privileged to have been born and brought up in Montreal and was exposed to the positive values of my parents that I have tried to give back to the community and elsewhere whenever I can. I believe that one person can make a huge difference in someone else’s life. Thus, while we are here on earth, it is our responsibility to help others less fortunate than ourselves.
Ometz, in my view, is critical to sustaining the Montreal Jewish community which is aging. We need new young blood and the primary source of renewal and revival is Jewish immigration from around the world. The time is opportune as there are many areas of the world where Jews feel threatened and underappreciated. The Government of Canada should use this opportunity to allow these people to immigrate and to add to our multi-cultural dynamic society. This would help us sustain the future of the Jewish community in Canada and in Montreal during the balance of the 21st Century and onward.
I was truly honored to serve JIAS. I got so much out of my relationship with the JIAS Board, its professionals and our immigrant clients, and learned so much from this experience. I met such wonderful people, both from the volunteering community, as well as the immigrants themselves. My tenure at JIAS stands out as a very significant part of my life and I am proud to have followed in my father’s footsteps. hide
One Door for all Immigration Needs
Submitted by: Barry Silverman
My connection with Ometz is through my leadership at JIAS – Jewish Immigration Aid Services – one of the three agencies that merged to become Ometz is today.
One of the key projects... read more
My connection with Ometz is through my leadership at JIAS – Jewish Immigration Aid Services – one of the three agencies that merged to become Ometz is today.
One of the key projects we had was the Hundred Family Program, where we were bringing 100 families at a time to Montreal from the Soviet Union. We sent social workers to Moscow and these families were interviewed before they became eligible to become part of that program. One of the prime concerns was, were they really Jewish? It was difficult to determine but eventually we managed to bring in a couple families at a time. They were assigned a worker at JIAS, who would then refer them to Jewish Family Services and/or Jewish Vocational Services, and they were taught how to do things here – simple things like going to the supermarket to shop and learning to speak English. We were closely working with Rabbi Sirota and Mark Groysberg. One interesting anecdote I remember was one timed Rabbi Sirota a brought in a surgeon who was also a rabbi and he had a mass circumcision of a number of the new immigrants.
In around 2000, I went to Kiev with the executive director of JIAS on the way to one of the Federation annual meetings, and Mark Groysberg gave us the phone number of a person who was a journalist who would tell us a bit about anti-Semitism in the FSU. We called this person, a woman, and we had a cup of coffee with her. During the course of our conversation she informed us that she was a reformed rabbi having studied in Jerusalem and London. While talking I told her about the Hundred Family Program and she said “I know about that program… I’m one of your families”.
I immediately had a certain feeling towards her. She said her husband was having a difficult time getting a Canadian visa, and I went to the Canadian embassy and mentioned it to the person I met and she said she would do what she can. Eventually they both came over. I informed the rabbi (Leigh Lerner) at the Temple Emmanuel about her, in hopes that I could find a job for her. She met Rabbi Lerner and she worked with him for a number of years. I still see her to this day.
My view on Ometz comes from an immigration point-of-view since I was involved with JIAS specifically. I see Ometz being the central focal point for immigration. Having only one agency is fantastic. Immigrants can get all the services they need by going through one door. hide
Being a part of the Ometz family
Submitted by: Brenda Rodier
I was born in Poland at a time when my parents were struggling to reconstruct their lives after surviving the war. Like so many before them, they left for the ‘Promised Land’ with the hopes ... read more
I was born in Poland at a time when my parents were struggling to reconstruct their lives after surviving the war. Like so many before them, they left for the ‘Promised Land’ with the hopes of starting a new life. At the age of 5, I remember arriving in Montreal in mid- May. That summer I recall being shipped off, by bus, with my mom to Jewish Laurentian Fresh Air Camp in St. Hippolyte. Years later, I learned that this was part of our Settlement & Integration through JIAS, now part of Ometz.
Since a formal Jewish Education was out of reach for my parents, even with generous subsidies from the community, I attended a Public School and had friends of every nationality. The Jews were a minority in my school. In order to compensate for the lack of Jewish contact that I had throughout the school year, my parents sent me to Camp B’nai Brith every summer. For years, that was my lifeline to Jewish life, establishing friendships with those who had common Jewish values. My parents never shared the fact that it was with the help of Allied Jewish Community Services (now Federation CJA), that my annual camp experiences were made possible. How ironic, or should I say besherit, that granting vulnerable families camp subsidies is the work that I proudly do at Ometz, today.
When my sons graduated from University, they took advantage of the Employment Services that were available to them at Ometz; and later, when my son Ben was seeking to hire employees, he reached out to Ometz as well.
Working at Jewish Family Services, which eventually became Ometz, has not only sensitized me to how difficult people’s lives are; it has also made me appreciate everything around me so much more. More importantly, it motivated me to give back and help our amazing Jewish Community. In addition to my professional position at Ometz for the past twenty plus years, I have somehow managed to have had a complementary second career of volunteering on the Beth Tikvah Board & Executive for 10 years, participating in several Federation Committees, being a founding Board member of the West Island Federation CJA since 1995, Chairing West Island Super Sunday, and Founding and Co-chairing the 50 plus group of CJCS in the West Island.
As I reflect my being a part of the Ometz family for the last 23 years, I am deeply aware of the impact that Ometz has had on my life and in the lives of my family. I am the product of the goals we wish to obtain for our clients. I am grateful for the personal growth that this agency has given me, along with the sense of social responsibility that has been instilled in me as a result of the efforts and decisions that were made for me by my parents, with the support of Ometz and the community, as a child. hide
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
Coming Full Circle
Submitted by: Howard Berger
Lucky me - I love my job! But my path to get here was a little roundabout… My very first contact with Ometz occurred when I was about 10 years old and a student at the Shaare Zion Academy. Jewi... read more
Lucky me - I love my job! But my path to get here was a little roundabout… My very first contact with Ometz occurred when I was about 10 years old and a student at the Shaare Zion Academy. Jewish Vocational Service/JVS (one of the 3 agencies that merged to become Ometz in 2008) administered a Stanford University evaluation test to all Jewish day school students – my first contact with the agency. My late father was also active on the JVS board and suggested later that as a teenager unsure of a career path, I try the JVS career orientation tests. Somehow JVS was just always lurking there in the background… By sheer coincidence, while at McGill Law School, I once worked at JVS as a student summer placement counsellor. Never did I suspect that I would later return in a professional capacity. While practicing law for more than 25 years, I remained an active volunteer at Federation CJA and many other community organizations. In 2011, my ‘volunteer career’ resulted in my being recruited to sign on as Executive Director of the agency.
I was in place as Executive Director for about 5 years when I became an early champion of the merger of the three agencies that formed Ometz. I understood that we would be able to simplify and enhance the process for many clients who were accessing services at all three agencies. It has been both challenging and rewarding to help lead and solidify the merger.
One of my fondest memories concerns the JEM workshop, an adapted workplace for people with special needs and disabilities. Since its launch in 1950 it has served thousands of our most vulnerable community members. We were fortunate enough to be able to purchase the JEM building when it became available in 2005. Along with a dedicated group of volunteers, we raised $2 million to renovate the building to better respond to the needs of our workers. We are proud of our partnership with Emploi Quebec which allows us to offer work to 80+ intellectually challenged individuals.
There will unfortunately always be people who need our services. For 150 years we’ve been looking after the most vulnerable parts of the community, and most probably, that role will continue. We have to plan today for a community that may become a little smaller in the future but will still be committed to looking after our most needy. In a period of increased funding challenges, I think Ometz is capable of leading by example—we review our services to make sure we maximize our resources, and we strive to ensure excellent and responsive services for those who need them.
It’s a delight and an honor to be able to work everyday with dedicated volunteers and professionals who are passionate about their work. I consider myself very lucky. hide
Ometz is a great safety net within our community
Submitted by: Zoe Polsky
I had heard about Ometz from a girl living in the same residence with me in my first year at McGill. She had originally wanted to get involved with the Ometz mentoring program, and I thought it w... read more
I had heard about Ometz from a girl living in the same residence with me in my first year at McGill. She had originally wanted to get involved with the Ometz mentoring program, and I thought it would be a good opportunity for me as well. I came in for a meeting with Janice Heft and loved her right off the bat. She kept me involved from the start.
I was involved in the mentoring program which meant being paired with a person one-on-one, meeting with them every two weeks, and providing general mentoring to them. The type of mentoring was based on the relationship you developed with your mentee and their individual needs. I was working with a young girl and we became friends right away. As it turned out, she just needed a female influence in her life.
I’m not from Montreal so I always go back home for the summers, and when I’m back home my mentoring partner and I stay in touch via phone or email. One of the best moments was when I came back to Montreal after a summer away. I saw her and we just ran to each other, so happy to see one another. It was great because it solidified the bond we had formed, and confirmed that our friendship wasn’t just one that was planned, or put together by Ometz. We genuinely really missed each other. After that session it put things into perspective about how much the mentorship program meant to her, and also how much it meant to me.
I think Ometz is an absolutely crucial component of the community because organizations like this see the big picture, and see that no one is slipping through the cracks. Without Ometz, a lot of young Jewish kids wouldn’t have the opportunity to reach their potential because they might be getting lost in other systems. It’s a great safety net within our community. Everyone using Ometz services is moving forward to achieve their full potential. hide
Ometz Touches Many Lives
Submitted by: Jeff Berkowitz
After completing my University undergraduate degree, I decided to get more involved in the community. At the time, a very good friend was working at Jewish Vocational Services and encouraged me ... read more
After completing my University undergraduate degree, I decided to get more involved in the community. At the time, a very good friend was working at Jewish Vocational Services and encouraged me to volunteer there. They were looking to rejuvenate their volunteer component, and from there, one thing led to another.
A major undertaking that took place during my presidency was a changeover of some of the senior management of the agency. It was a very difficult time. It was time consuming, mind consuming and emotionally consuming. In addition, a large portion of time was spent working to make JVS as relevant and modernized as possible for the Jewish population involved. We specifically focused on youth and youth retention. We also worked on the skills upgrades needed to make sure people were employable.
Since my time at JVS I have been involved as an officer of Hillel and remain on their board, and am also involved on the board of Camp B’nai Brith. I continue to be involved in Combined Jewish Appeal.
I think Ometz, in the format it is today, is more important than ever. It touches a major portion of any element of the community that would be at risk, be it emotionally or financially. Ometz is there for everyone. In today’s reality it is important to know that this type of organization is out there. Ometz is something that will touch many lives directly because its services are needed for those at risk.
Finally, I owe a debt of gratitude to Ometz because, as a volunteer, I was fortunate to work with and get to know a great professional at JVS Workshop. Today, that lovely woman is my wife of 15 years and mother of our 3 beautiful children! Thank you JVS/ Ometz! hide
Submitted by: Stan Cytrynbaum
My late friend Martin Kirsch was on the board of JVS before me and he encouraged me to join the board so I did. One of his sons may have been in the Workshop, and it seemed like a worthwhile agen... read more
My late friend Martin Kirsch was on the board of JVS before me and he encouraged me to join the board so I did. One of his sons may have been in the Workshop, and it seemed like a worthwhile agency to volunteer for. I had been involved in different committees before and after my time at JVS.
The main project/happenings that took place during my period at JVS was the change in policy of the government whereby they required that we pay minimum wage to the employees/clients in the Workshop. The government subsidized the wages that we would be paying the clients. That was a major change for the clients; they would be receiving a much higher income. I also remember the move from a 4-5 storey building, to a ground-level building that was much more convenient for everyone. Those are the two things that stand out to me when I look back on my time at JVS.
After JVS, I continued playing my part in the community. I was national chairman of the Canadian Jewish Congress Committee for Ethiopian Jewry. That was very time-consuming and we were involved in the issue of Ethiopian Jews, to the point of creating a Canadian project whereby we managed to get permission to receive approximately 100 Ethiopian Jews, most of whom are currently in Montreal. After that, I was the founding chair of a family-to-family project in the community that matched recent immigrants to a local family in order to help them in their integration to the Canadian way of life.
My hope is that Ometz will continue the current set-up whereby the three agencies are merged into one. It’s working very well and will continue to work well into the future. I encourage anyone interested in donating to the community by donating to Combined Jewish Appeal and to whatever agency interests the donor. hide
À mon tour d’aider l’Agence Ometz
Submitted by: Anonyme .
Juste avant mon départ de France, ma sœur a recherché sur internet des endroits où je pourrais manger cachère à Montréal et…elle a trouvé le site de l’Agence Ometz! Elle m’a envoyé... read more
Juste avant mon départ de France, ma sœur a recherché sur internet des endroits où je pourrais manger cachère à Montréal et…elle a trouvé le site de l’Agence Ometz! Elle m’a envoyé le lien et c’est comme ça que j’ai contacté Yaël Soussana.
Quand on arrive de France, on se croit fort. Armés de nos diplômes, nous pensons que tout va bien se passer. Nous avons rencontré Yaël et elle nous a proposé diverses ressources, mais nous ne pensions pas en avoir besoin. Et puis, quand les difficultés sont apparues, nous nous sommes souvenus que quelqu’un nous avait proposé de l’aide. Heureusement nous avons retrouvé Yaël dans ces moments difficiles. Elle était toujours chaleureuse et voulait sincèrement nous aider. Lorsque l’on arrive comme nouvel immigrant, on rencontre du monde tous les jours, mais les personnes qui démontrent vraiment un intérêt pour nous aider sont rares. Peu de gens autour de nous nous écoutaient vraiment. On vous pose la question «Ça va?», mais personne ne s’attarde si la réponse est «non, ça ne va pas.». Mais Yaël vérifiait régulièrement si tout allait bien. Elle a toujours était là pour nous, pour toutes les grandes fêtes, pour nous aider. À certains moments, sans le support de l’Agence Ometz on n’aurait pas pu continuer. Elle nous a vraiment aidés. Elle appelait régulièrement. Elle savait détecter quand ça allait mal et nous a soutenus, conseillés et aidés quand on en a eu besoin. Elle a très bien fait son travail. Nous sommes chanceux d’avoir eu Yaël sur notre chemin.
Avec Candice, nous faisions nos démarches d’immigration et elle nous a aidés à faire tous les papiers… Les papiers, on peut s’y noyer ici si on ne connaît pas! Candice nous a aidés pour notre immigration. C’est pour toutes ces choses que, lorsqu’on ne sait plus sur qui compter, l’Agence Ometz est là. Les personnes qui y travaillent sont incroyables et très chaleureuses. Moralement quand on arrive on se sent seul. Petit à petit, on nous a invités aux évènements de l’Agence Ometz. Pendant ces fêtes, même si on ne connaît personne, les conseillers de l’Agence Ometz sont là : Yaël, Ruth, Candice. L’Agence Ometz est comme une famille de remplacement. Une année, Yaël a insisté pour qu’on vienne à la fête de Hanoukka de l’Agence Ometz. Il y a eu un tirage…et mon fils a gagné un vélo! Vous auriez dû voir son sourire! Cette année-là avait été très difficile pour nous, mais ce jour-là j’ai vu des étoiles dans ses yeux. Pour lui c’était vraiment une chose incroyable.
Je trouve que l’Agence Ometz est une bonne porte d’entrée quand on arrive ici au Canada, que l’on est juif et seul. Si certaines personnes ont des amis ici ou de la famille, c’est peut-être plus facile, mais de plus en plus de familles arrivent ici toutes seules. De jeunes familles quittent la France à cause de l’antisémitisme ou parce qu’il n’y a pas de travail, ou quittent Israël parce c’est trop difficile économiquement, ou d’autres pays comme la Russie ou l’Argentine. Quand on arrive seul, le meilleur port d’attache c’est l’Agence Ometz.
J’espère pouvoir à mon tour aider en donnant à Agence Ometz et à la communauté. Espérons que tout le monde pense comme ça, qu’ils trouvent l’Agence Ometz pour les aider lorsqu’ils arrivent et, lorsqu’ils seront installés et stables, qu’ils se souviennent et aident à leur tour l’Agence Ometz. C’est comme cela que je vois le futur de l’Agence Ometz – que tous ceux qui reçoivent aujourd’hui soient ceux qui donnent demain. 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
Ometz is Warm & Friendly
Submitted by: Oxana Pasternak
I came from Israel in 2007, and from my first days here in Canada, Ometz was helpful for me and my family. I am very happy to say that I was able to find a job with the help of Jonathan Levey. It... read more
I came from Israel in 2007, and from my first days here in Canada, Ometz was helpful for me and my family. I am very happy to say that I was able to find a job with the help of Jonathan Levey. It was with Jonathan’s help, support, and calls to employers that I achieved this. I don’t have enough words to express my gratefulness to Jonathan. I could not have dealt with this without him, and it would have been a very unpleasant process if he was not there to help me.
In having this opportunity, I would also like to give my appreciation to Natasha Sosunov, Olga Davydova, and Judith Mestel for their encouragement. All of them were always very supportive.
The atmosphere at Ometz was always warm and friendly, and the clients always feel welcomed. Definitely, I would recommend Ometz to new immigrants and to people who need help. Thank you to Ometz for your great efforts in helping job seekers. hide
Empowering the Most Vulnerable in Our Community
Submitted by: Robert Kleinman
I was president of Jewish Immigrant Aid Services (JIAS) from 1991-1993, before it underwent its merger with JVS and JFS to become Ometz as we know it today. I moved onto the JIAS board in 1988, a... read more
I was president of Jewish Immigrant Aid Services (JIAS) from 1991-1993, before it underwent its merger with JVS and JFS to become Ometz as we know it today. I moved onto the JIAS board in 1988, and it came about because the president at the time, Barry Shapiro, called up Zittrer, Siblin, Stein, Levine, the firm I was working at, and spoke to Boris Levine. He asked Boris if anyone at the firm would be interested in sitting on the JIAS board, and Boris thought I would be a good candidate. Shortly afterward, I joined JIAS, was on the board for a period, and eventually became president.
During my time at JIAS we created a major project in the community called “The Hundred Families Program”. The goal of this program was to reunite Jews from the former Soviet Union with their relatives already here in Montreal. The program served as a way of increasing the Jewish population in Montreal, and thus to help reverse the demographic trends we were undergoing at the time. We made an agreement with the Federal and Quebec immigration departments, and went to Moscow with government representatives to interview prospects.
The community organized itself well and we created welcome baskets, pick-ups at the airport, Jewish Public Library and Y memberships, Le Mercaz, and founded the Family-to-Family Program (pairing local and incoming families). Of course, we ensured the local relatives were very much involved. Perhaps most importantly, we created a job program designed to find work for the immigrants even before they arrived. The Hundred Families Program was, overall, an exciting program that worked out very well. We followed a strategic plan and initiated many new services. We made immigration to Montreal a positive in our community.
Currently, I am the executive director of the Jewish Community Foundation of Montreal and participated in the planning to bring about the new Ometz.
A core value of Jewish people is to alleviate the status of the poor, and to make them independent. That’s the overriding mission of Ometz in Montreal, and I hope it will continue in the future. 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
L’expertise de l’Agence Ometz
Submitted by: Myriam Sabine Denoun
Alors que j’étais à la recherche de nouveaux défis professionnels, j’ai eu la chance de rencontrer l’Agence Ometz. Très vite, j’ai su que cette rencontre serait déterminante. Le sout... read more
Alors que j’étais à la recherche de nouveaux défis professionnels, j’ai eu la chance de rencontrer l’Agence Ometz. Très vite, j’ai su que cette rencontre serait déterminante. Le soutien que j’ai obtenu était bien au-delà de mes attentes. Je connaissais l’Agence Ometz de réputation. Mes amis, et aussi les membres de ma communauté, m’avait parlé des services offerts par Agence Ometz. A présent, mon tour était venu de faire appel à leur expertise.
L’Agence Ometz m’a aidé de diverses façons tout au long de ma recherche d’emploi. J’ai eu la chance de rencontrer une conseillère hors pair, qui m’a offert un service personnalisé de haute qualité. A l’écoute de mes attentes, ayant compris ce qui me motivait, Natalie a su me guider durant ce processus. Elle m’a mis en contact avec toutes les personnes de son réseau susceptibles de m’aider. Le fameux proverbe « ce n’est pas ce que tu connais mais qui tu connais» a pris tout son sens.
Le fait que vous soyez une organisation à but non lucratif fait toute la différence. Les services que vous offrez vont au-delà de ce que proposent les autres agences d’emploi. Vous êtes centré sur l’humain et n’hésitez pas à entreprendre tout ce que vous pouvais pour accomplir votre mission : aider votre prochain.
J’ai eu la chance de rencontrer de nombreuses personnes toutes plus formidables les unes que les autres. Ma conseillère a fait un travail extraordinaire, toujours disponible, à l’écoute, et elle a fait de cette expérience un moment d’échanges mémorables. Merci!
Ma façon de rendre à la communauté est de rester à l’écoute des besoins des autres. A mon tour, j’espère tendre la main qu’on m’a tendue…d’autant plus que je sais par expérience que l’Agence Ometz a un sens hors pair du client. hide
Ometz welcomed me with open arms
Submitted by: Rosa Bautista
It was my great friend Orly who referred me to Ometz. She had previously used Ometz’s services and recommended it very highly. I came to Ometz to strengthen my job as a caregiver for the elderl... read more
It was my great friend Orly who referred me to Ometz. She had previously used Ometz’s services and recommended it very highly. I came to Ometz to strengthen my job as a caregiver for the elderly. I don’t have the words to describe my experience… Ometz welcomed me with open arms. What I enjoyed the most was the humanistic approach that they took. The staff was warm, friendly, and non-judgemental in the advice they gave me. Ometz offered me services that were very specific to my needs. I had a counsellor that took the time to speak with me from day one. Together, we clarified my goals, and I discovered a palette of courses that Ometz offered. The course on elderly aid was most suitable for me. In taking care of my elderly mother, I realized I needed help in this area and Ometz was able to provide that for me. The organization was there for me, personally and professionally.
I would recommend it to anyone in the same situation. Before coming to Ometz, I had a career as a counsellor in conjugal violence, and when you’ve been in the workforce for so long, it’s difficult to admit to yourself that you might need help, especially when dealing with a close member of the family who is aging and ill since many years. I felt embarrassed about my situation, but I found so much support that it helped me to deal, and to heal some wounds from past, unfinished experiences. It is a real work-in-progress.
Another thing I loved about Ometz was the teachers and their pedagogy. The way they teach was so interesting and so clear, especially since it was my first time studying in English, because most of my studies are done in French. It was a challenge for me, and the fact that I got good marks because I studied so hard was very rewarding. I also liked the ambiance – every day I was looking forward to coming in. The vibes were so interesting and they kept me going.
I remember one day I was not feeling so good about my situation. With my mom’s poor health and all the classes I was taking, I really felt like giving up. My stress levels were high, but then I received a warm, non-judgemental intervention from one of the counsellors, and that did it. To find counsellors that, even with all their credentials, were able to take on a compassionate and human approach was incredible.
When I was in university I took a religion class and did a project about Judaism. Although I’m not Jewish myself, I met a great rabbi who helped me discover the Jewish community of Montreal so I feel a connection with the community. I love the community’s soul and culture, and it has become a dream of mine to travel to Israel. Ometz is so important to me because they offer help to this community that I have come to love. It will be important for Ometz to remain up-to-date in what’s going on in the community, and even though there is a lot of turmoil in Quebec, Ometz keeps an open mind and adapts to the situation. hide
Giving a Helping Hand
Submitted by: Frema Engel
In the early 1980s, when Ometz was known as the Baron de Hirsch Institute, a private family service agency with administrative links to CLSC Rene Cassin, I was involved in a planning committee co... read more
In the early 1980s, when Ometz was known as the Baron de Hirsch Institute, a private family service agency with administrative links to CLSC Rene Cassin, I was involved in a planning committee concerning the services of these two organizations. I subsequently became a member of the board of directors of the Jewish Family Services of the Baron de Hirsch Institute, an involvement that spanned over a decade and several organizational transitions.
The agency was funded largely by Federation CJA. Federation began questioning the agency’s mandate and the viability of its existence. Realizing that we did not have many allies within the Jewish community and that our mandate was unclear, we needed to come up with a clear mission and a sound justification to keep the agency running. We knew that Federation would either stop our funding and shut down the agency, or we were going to succeed in transforming the agency into a more viable organization.
We formed a strategic planning committee made up of board members and staff, which I chaired. Our objective was to save the agency. We analyzed what government services existed and where the gaps were, redefined our niche of services for the Jewish community, and set out to improve our relationship with our funder and to make our presence better known to the community. One of the highlights of this effort was the Annual Meeting which we strategically planned to gain support for our renewed mission and services. Unusual for an Annual meeting, there was standing room only as over 200 former board members, present and past clients, community interest groups, the media and other agency partners attended to show their support. Everything about our strategic efforts was planned down to the last detail and this was done to ensure the survival of the agency.
Our goals had been to make sure Federation realized how vital our services were to the community and to make the community more aware of the work of the Jewish Family Services of the Baron de Hirsch Institute. We succeeded because of the commitment, focus and hard work of the volunteers and staff on the Strategic Planning Committee and on the Board of Directors. The vision, effort and dedication of these people not only saved the agency but also created a realignment of our services to better meet the community’s needs. Our improved collaboration with our community partners and with Federation CJA continued and some time later we proposed to the Federation leadership that JFS, JEM and JIAS be merged to create a seamless flow of services – an initiative that happened many years later, resulting in the creation of Ometz.
My involvement with the agency and the community continued for many years: I served on the BDH Board of Directors and became President of JFS of the Baron de Hirsch Institute in 1996. Among my other community activities, I was elected President of the President’s Council of Federation-affiliated agencies, was a member of the Federation CJA Board of Trustees and then became a member of its Executive Committee. I served on the BDH Cemetery Board of Directors as a JFS representative. I then got involved with JIAS, both as a volunteer and as a professional during a period in its history of upheaval, transformation and renewal.
I am proud to have been associated with JFS and JIAS and to have been part of the birth of Ometz and witness to the strong agency it has become. It is well positioned for the future to support and give a helping hand to our Montreal Jewish community - children and youth, singles, couples and families who are disadvantaged, in financial or psychological distress, in crisis or in transition. hide
Thank you, Ometz
Submitted by: Stephanie Unger
At the age of 18 I dropped out of Cegep and began working for minimum wage. Two years later I had a revelation. I realized I wanted more and had to return to school. The problem was that I was ... read more
At the age of 18 I dropped out of Cegep and began working for minimum wage. Two years later I had a revelation. I realized I wanted more and had to return to school. The problem was that I was lost and had no idea where to begin. My mother suggested that I meet with someone at Ometz (then, Jewish Employment Montreal), who she said would be able to direct me. I met with Janet Perlis, a career counselor who took the time to get to know me. I was always aware of my interests but never knew how I could apply them towards a university degree or a future career. She gave me a questionnaire to fill out and patiently guided me through the process.
Based on the results, Janet suggested Marketing. The truth is I never pictured myself in business school, which I assumed was a stepping stone toward becoming the proverbial “Business Woman”. However, with Janet’s encouragement, I researched the field and discovered that there was plenty of room for creativity, while acquiring important skills and working toward a business degree. So I went for it…and LOVED it! After graduating from John Molson School of Business, I returned to Ometz for assistance with job search. Cathy Grundman, my employment counselor, helped me polish my CV and distributed it to various companies. I kept my options open, ready to interview anywhere that had “advertising” or “marketing” in the job description.
Within two weeks I had several interviews. One of them was for Blind Ferret Entertainment, a small but growing web-based comic and affiliate marketing company. I remember walking into the office for the first time. It was an odd place, to say the least. There were comic characters, sword collections, and Lego models everywhere. It certainly wasn’t the environment in which I saw myself. But, after meeting with the employers and staff, I starting thinking that this could actually be a really cool place to work.
At the same time I was interviewing at a large fashion company, the industry where I always assumed I would end up. When Blind Ferret offered me a position (and was not prepared to wait for an answer while I was testing waters elsewhere), I had an immediate choice to make. Choosing between the two options was one of the toughest decisions I have ever had to make. Cathy and her supervisor, Lois Liverman, helped me talk out my situation and envision my life at both companies. I will never forget the moment I heard, “I think you made up your own mind. It sounds like you really want Blind Ferret”. I knew they were right. I accepted the position.
Two and a half years later I am still with Blind Ferret and have been promoted twice. I am now the Director of Advertising Operations. I am working for good people and love coming to the office every day. In fact, I can picture myself here forever. Recently, I assisted in the recruitment of a new employee for my department. We hired Josh Salzberg, a recent graduate referred to us by Ometz. Once again, they found a great fit for Blind Ferret. I realize, as I am writing this, how I have come full circle; from a misguided 18 year old, to the director of my own department. And Ometz has been there for me every step of the way. 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
Supporting My Career Changes
Submitted by: Carol Wolfovitch
I worked at BMO in systems development for twenty three years (twenty of which were part-time), before deciding that I did not want to go back full-time and was ready for a new career. While sear... read more
I worked at BMO in systems development for twenty three years (twenty of which were part-time), before deciding that I did not want to go back full-time and was ready for a new career. While searching for a new job, someone suggested I try Ometz. My first meeting was with Marlene. She helped me organize my CV in order to align with a change in career paths. We talked about fields I would be interested in, and even though I didn’t have all the right skills at the time, I decided to try administrative jobs. Marlene helped me transform my CV and advised where to learn more about Excel, Word, and other skills that would be beneficial. Within a month, she sent my CV to a financial advisor and I got a job as an administrative assistant, three days a week. I kept that job for three years and learned a lot about the insurance and financial industry.
Unfortunately, I had to part ways with that job as I needed some personal time off. I eventually returned to Ometz and this time, met with Elena. I told her that I was now looking for a job in either insurance (as I had done previously) or in a doctor’s office. For some reason I had always pictured myself working in a doctor’s office as I am a people person. Elena really pushed my CV, but because I was not fully bilingual, a lot of medical offices wouldn’t accept it. Finally, a doctor who had received my CV from Ometz called me and said to come in for an interview. I had a two-day trial and got the job part-time. My French proved to be better than I expected.
I foresee Ometz playing an important role in helping potential candidates to decide what field they would like to work in and what they would like to do, whether they’re just starting out or if they’re transitioning from one job to another as I was. Ometz helps out by having meetings with you, counseling, finding out what your strengths are, and offering a lot of useful courses. They screen a lot of jobs to find something that is best suited for you. They really got a feel for who I was and what I wanted.
My experience at Ometz was very positive and helpful. I received so much support from the staff. In the end, Ometz helped me get not one, but two jobs that I did and still do love. 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
Helping the Marginalized
Submitted by: Marilyn Bicher
I started volunteering with JFS around 1993, just after the introduction of Bill 120 that realigned social services and mandated the closure of the public Jewish Family Services Social Service Ce... read more
I started volunteering with JFS around 1993, just after the introduction of Bill 120 that realigned social services and mandated the closure of the public Jewish Family Services Social Service Centre. I became involved just as the public arm of JFS was being integrated into the private arm. We were moving from boards being elected from the users, to a different structure. The person who asked me to get involved was Libby Labell, who was already on the board and a member of the Status of Women’s Committee of Canadian Jewish Congress. I, too, was on the Status of Women’s Committee and at that time, we were seeking to increase the representation of women on agency boards. Prior to being on the Board of JFS, I led some training sessions in the family life education program. If my memory serves me correctly, I talked about teen sexuality and sexual assault.
During my time at JFS I proposed that we add a clause to the bylaws indicating that any person, who refuses to remove all barriers within his or her control that would prevent a spouse’s religious re-marriage, would not qualify to be a Director. Another highlight for me was co-chairing the Loan Circle. This program was established to help women start a business. Women would get a loan if their business plan was approved. We had some very interesting projects put forward and it certainly empowered women who wanted to get involved.
I also worked with adults who were living with chronic mental health illnesses. A defining moment for me was during Sukkot one year. JFS sponsored a Sukkah party for this population and at that time, the Sukkah was in front of the building on Cote St. Catherine. To see these adults celebrate Sukkot with such joy was overwhelming for me. In my capacities as president I enjoyed being with this population and subsequently became involved with their housing program.
The Exceptional Case Committee is a crucial committee and I felt privileged to be on it. This committee was composed of both professional and lay leadership and was mandated to review particularly difficult cases and make recommendations.
Today I am involved with Auberge Shalom and AGI (Alzheimer’s Group Inc.) so I give back in another way. I did sit on some Federation committees as well. I was also President of the Presidents Council and participated on the planning and allocation committee last year for Federation.
JFS is now part of Ometz and, as such, the organization has grown. To me Ometz plays an essential role in the Montreal Jewish Community as it continues to help the impoverished, youth at risk, people in crisis, immigrants and those who are marginalized. 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
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
I am more confident, thanks to Ometz
Submitted by: Keren Besner
I had been out of the workforce for 7-8 years, and a couple years ago someone I knew went to Ometz to find work. I couldn’t go back to work full-time, but I hoped there would be a compromise to... read more
I had been out of the workforce for 7-8 years, and a couple years ago someone I knew went to Ometz to find work. I couldn’t go back to work full-time, but I hoped there would be a compromise to be found. Due to this limitation, I expected maybe 1 of 10 people would be interested in hiring me, and that was good enough. I persevered until I found something that was suitable for me. It was thanks to Natalie Lang and Stephanie Steinman who vouched for me.
I participated in presentations in front of potential employers, and I distinctly remember Stephanie’s positive attitude and spin on the situation. When I would get discouraged, Stephanie and Natalie were always turning it around and showing me the bright side of every situation. “You’re not the only one in this boat. Hang in there!” They made me feel good about myself.
I would tell new graduates to go to Ometz, and even people who want to re-enter the workforce. The workshop I did really helped and gave me such confidence. I don’t know many people my age (in their mid-30s) that would actually do what I did, but I felt well-prepared, and it was such a valuable experience. It’s good for both professional and personal growth. The counselors never tell you you’re terrible; they’re just positive and help as much as they can.
Ometz is a great organization to have and I’m so grateful for it. 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
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
From Generation to Generation
Submitted by: Jonathan Bicher
My mom was the President of Jewish Family Services in the early 2000s and it was her connection to JFS that contributed to my desire to become involved with this organization. Once she no longer... read more
My mom was the President of Jewish Family Services in the early 2000s and it was her connection to JFS that contributed to my desire to become involved with this organization. Once she no longer was President, I was nominated to the Board of Directors. I eventually became President. In fact, I was the last president of JFS before it merged with JEM and JIAS to become Ometz.
One of my primary projects during my presidency was to oversee the merger of the agencies, which was very difficult and emotional, as each agency had its own culture, history and identity. Ultimately it was the right thing to do as it helped to better serve the clients. The main goals were to have central intake and for the agencies to share resources in order to be more efficient and minimize duplication.
There was nothing better than to have the opportunity to help those in need as well as to work with professionals and lay leaders who were committed to tikkun olam. I learned a tremendous amount as President of JFS. I learned about social services offered within Ometz and within the public sector. I learned about the special needs of some members of our community as well as resources that are available and lacking in the social system.
Today, I am on the Board of Federation CJA and Chair the Allocation Committee. My previous involvement at the agency level allows me to contribute from this perspective. When I am at the table with other committee members, I bring forward my experience at JFS and emphasize the importance of supporting the agencies.
To be honest, I would be happy if we didn’t need Ometz, but unfortunately, we do. To understand the need of families in crisis touches you in places you didn’t know you could be touched. Ometz helps families navigate the system and work through crisis. An organization such as Ometz is essential in our community. hide
Giving guidance, empowerment and opportunity
Submitted by: Iris Wagner
I am a Past-President of Jewish Vocational Services & the JVS Sheltered Workshop and was involved with the agency for over thirteen years. My first involvement came in 1987 when I was asked to jo... read more
I am a Past-President of Jewish Vocational Services & the JVS Sheltered Workshop and was involved with the agency for over thirteen years. My first involvement came in 1987 when I was asked to join as a mentor of the Entrepreneurial Advisory Program (EAP), which led to chairing committees and being nominated to the Board of Directors, where eventually I became President. Interestingly, I was the youngest President, and only the third woman at that time in JVS’ fifty-year history. It was a different time back in the late 1990s, and I feel like I broke a bit of a glass ceiling and encouraged other women to join the board.
As part of my leadership work as President I headed a team responsible for the 50th anniversary celebration of the agency, during which we rebranded, launching new materials including brochures, logos, and the first website. We also hosted a special anniversary celebration in Ogilvy’s Tudor Hall that was very well-received. Another one of my contributions to the agency was that I took a 53-member board that existed at that time and brought it down to 32 members in the span of my presidential term. Restructuring the board and executive made for a much more effective and involved management team of Jewish volunteers, and the agency benefited greatly from it.
A personal benefit from being President was that I was nominated and accepted into the first Montreal Wexner Heritage Programme group, which took place from 1998-2000. It was a life-changing experience because it propelled me into the business that I currently run. My work and travel schedules do not permit me to do board volunteerism at this time, however when I am in town I volunteer at the YM-YWHA to help small groups of new immigrants perfect their English skills. In the future, if my travels lessen, I will be happy to rejoin a board—perhaps even Ometz! I strongly believe in “Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”—giving people the guidance, empowerment and opportunity to lead the life they desire.
One of the agency’s most important functions was that we received a large amount of government funding and grants. Employment and vocational services are a cornerstone of Jewish community life, and this is still the case for Ometz today. Whether they are less fortunate, unemployed, or newly arrived: we need all our constituents to thrive in order for the community to prosper. Mazel tov to Ometz’s continued success in these endeavours.
Above photo: During my presidency we moved the JVS Sheltered Workshop from Royden Street to its current location on Mountain Sights. I was the President during the Mezuzah Dedication Ceremony, and coincidentally, Rabbi Shoham, well known in our community, dedicated both the Royden and Mountain Sights buildings. 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
Dear Ometz and Small Steps Day Camp
Submitted by: Ivy Rabinovitch
I am a mother to three healthy growing boys ranging from 8 to 14 years old. Each of my children has some type of learning disability which we have dealt with as they appeared. Max, our younges... read more
I am a mother to three healthy growing boys ranging from 8 to 14 years old. Each of my children has some type of learning disability which we have dealt with as they appeared. Max, our youngest, seems to be the biggest challenge; he has a speech and language problem that is impairing his reading. This is affecting his learning in school.
Having the chance to send Max to camp at the “Friendly Faces” at the YM-YMHA has been a great benefit to my family. Max is getting a great camp to go to. He was happy and content at the end of the day. He is getting help when taken out to work with a skilled speech therapist. It is reasonably priced which is helpful in a big way. It is hard enough trying to afford therapy during the year for us.
All I can say is thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving my child this opportunity. We, as parents, try our best to give our kids all the help they need but sometimes we need assistance. Thanks for all the Tikun Olum! Hoping next year will be just as amazing. 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
Agence Ometz, notre maison
Submitted by: Andrey, Galina, Olga, Michelle, et Emily Chaykovsky
Notre famille aimerait remercier cette merveilleuse organisation, L’Agence Ometz.
Deux ans et demi plus tôt, ici, au Canada, votre agence était la première place dans ce pays qui ... read more
Notre famille aimerait remercier cette merveilleuse organisation, L’Agence Ometz.
Deux ans et demi plus tôt, ici, au Canada, votre agence était la première place dans ce pays qui a non seulement contribué à améliorer notre situation financière, mais s’est concentré davantage sur notre soutien moral. Cela nous a aidé énormément à survivre aux difficultés des premières étapes de l’immigration au Québec. Merci beaucoup pour votre participation, de votre aide et pour la bonne attitude!
Cette femme remarquable, Natasha Sosunov, notre agente, a pris la partie la plus importante dans a résolution de nos problèmes d’immigration. Nous sommes très reconnaissants, Natasha, de votre compréhension, de votre compassion, de votre capacité à soutenir, et aussi, pour avoir été là pour nous.
L’Agence Ometz restera toujours pour nous un petit morceau d’Israël : ensoleillé et chaud, sincère et amicale. Un morceau de seul endroit au monde, qu’on peut appeler « la maison »… Les bons souvenirs de vos soins réchaufferont toujours nos cœurs! hide
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