Jewish Residential Services took the occasion of its annual meeting to officially open the Solomon and Sarah Goldberg House with a mezuzah ceremony attended by local Jewish leaders.
Located at 1428 Shady Ave. in Squirrel Hill across from the Children’s Institute, the facility will house young men with “complex care needs,” said JRS Executive Director Deborah Friedman. The residents will move there in two to three weeks, after which time the facility will be staffed “around the clock,” often with more than one staff person. The intent, said Friedman, is for residents to both live comfortably and venture out for work and leisure activities.
At the Sept. 15 event, which was attended by approximately 75 people, Rabbi Eli Seidman, chaplain of the Jewish Association on Aging, affixed a mezuzah to the Goldberg House’s front door, recited a blessing and shared a few words. Specifically, Seidman emphasized how meaningful the residence will be for its occupants, their families and JRS.
After concluding the mezuzah ceremony, attendees were invited to tour the home. Friedman explained that this opportunity gave supporters a chance to see the house before it became a private residence.
JRS is collaborating with the Verland Foundation on the Goldberg House. Verland is self-described as a “nonprofit family of person-centered, community homes and services supporting [more than] 200 individuals with intellectual disabilities, many of whom have multiple physical challenges.”
Friedman explained that Verland is a long-established service organization in Western Pennsylvania that deals almost exclusively with people who need intensive levels of care. According to the arrangement, Verland and JRS will split services offered; specifically, Verland will staff the home, and JRS will provide enrichment.
“JRS has a very small staff, and Verland has a much larger staff and longer history dealing with this population,” said Friedman.
In providing enrichment, JRS will promote community inclusion and create a Jewish atmosphere in the facility.
After observing the Goldberg House, attendees were invited across the street for a reception at the Children’s Institute. The reception was followed by JRS’s annual meeting, which welcomed an additional 50 attendees.
At the meeting, guest speaker Mark Steidl, 20, a freshman at Community College of Allegheny County and a participant in the CITY Connections transition program of the Pittsburgh Public Schools, discussed his experiences as a young adult with special needs.
“People say don’t judge a book by its cover,” said the wheelchair-bound Steidl, who also is a board member of the Children’s Hospital Advisory Network for Guidance and Empowerment and volunteers at the Woodlands Foundation. “That goes for people too.”
Adam Reinherz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.