OurSpace Parent Testimonials
“OurSpace opened up a new world for us when Michael joined the program about five years ago. For a long time our family went back and forth about having Michael live a “fully included” life. That means different things to different families, but for us, up until Michael was about 11 or 12, that meant keeping the strongest of his physical, social and emotional ties to our Temple Israel of Hollywood local community, where he was born and literally grew up. OurSpace helped change our perception of what fully included means. Now, for us, fully included means that Michael is participating in every possible program, activity, course of study, occasion and joy that he can and wants to and to the fullest of his desires. Fully included means that there is nothing and no one holding him back or telling us what Michael cannot do. So when Michael wanted to read the Megillah on Purim with Rabbi Feinstein, Susan said “bring it on!” and Rabbi Feinstein fully (and we mean FULLY) embraced Michael’s reading. When Michael first crept, then pushed his way onto the bima for T’fillah services with the “veterans”, Julie happily made Michael a veteran as well. When Michael leads the way every year to the crazy dancing scene that is the best part of the Passover seder, everyone says, “Look at him go!” What could be more fully included than that?”
“Kenny and Danny so look forward to the holidays, in part because of the strong associations made here, that they start talking about them well in advance. The annual OurSpace model seder is a fun favorite. Bob and I have many fond memories of craft projects covered in wet paint, hand-made matzah covers enough to last a decade with no repeats, and a lot of singing in the sun. The friendships the boys have made here are priceless, as are those we've made with families we met through the Parent Chats, whom we still call friends. The OurSpace Shaare Tikva activities, excursions with B'Yachad Bet and social occasions helped expand the boys' world, and made it a richer place for our whole family.”
“Ten years ago, our vision became clouded and life was very black and white. So many of the typical or traditional plans we took so for granted – school, play dates, family functions, little league, tennis, travel and religious affiliation – all began piling on one another on a never-ending list of “pick the path of least resistance.” Some days that path was so strewn with the litter of life and disappointments in people we once called friends, we saw no path, had no vision but put whatever faith we had into taking one step at a time, remaining focused and leaving no stone unturned. Nearly four years ago, by chance, a social worker from Ha-Mercaz provided information about the Our Space Program with Susan North Gilboa’s phone number. Having previously inquired and tested other avenues in the spiritual community, we hoped and prayed that this might be “the one.” We had lost so much hope in finding a place to belong, spiritually and communally.
On Saturday, March 21, 2015 our son became a Bar Mitzvah. Before those closest to him, fourteen to be exact, he read two Aliyot flawlessly, calmly and with confidence. It was truly a miracle - and then, there was a second one. The reception awaiting our amazing son was filled with new friends and their families who walk similar paths, all part of OurSpace Parent Chats, and the newest OurSpace Havurah, families with whom we have already shared Shabbat dinners, swim parties and holiday dinners. The celebration was under the roof of the Temple Aliyah community, a synagogue that had the vision and heart to understand families like ours, by OurSpace educators and tutors that challenge themselves to find ways of reaching students who learn differently and by Clergy and Staff dedicated to sharing the love of the Torah and having the vision to see the world through different eyes. We are offered the light when we have the vision to see it, the passion to search for it and the love to embrace it. With profound gratitude, we are home.”