July 18, 2024
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BPY Opens Oma’s OT Room

Ben Porat Yosef is always “striving to meet the needs of its students in every way possible,” said Aliza Strassman, director of special services for BPY. Now, thanks to a generous donation from the Berger and Zisholtz families, the school boasts a brand new, state-of-the-art occupational therapy (OT) space where students can have those needs met and receive extra help to develop their skills and overcome obstacles—all in the comfort of their BPY home.

Oma’s OT Room, as the space is called, is an inviting, colorful room designed for work on both gross- and fine motor skills. Some highlights include a zipline, swings, a rock-climbing wall and a fine-motor station. There are various seating options available, as well as a light-and-sound system used to create a calming atmosphere.

Evan Zisholtz described the family’s desire to do something special to remember his mother, Vivian Zisholtz, Oma to her grandchildren, a woman dedicated to her family, her community of Atlanta and her career as an occupational therapist. Oma’s OT Room reflects the person Vivian was, combining her warmth and her passion for her work. It’s a place where students can get the “warmth and love from an Oma and personalized, individualized attention that is second to none. That’s what these kids are getting in that space,” emphasized Evan.

Describing how the project got off the ground, Evan shared, “It started with the desire of my in-laws, Julio and Debbie Berger, and my father and stepmother, Barry and Mindy Zisholtz, to do something in my mother’s name. We decided on BPY and thought of a space the school needed that was also something my mom dedicated her professional career to, so it combined both of those.”

“It was very special to have my immediate family as well as my in-laws” share in the project, continued Evan. That cooperation shows a very “important lesson” to the couple’s children. Evan and his wife, Diana, have two daughters in BPY and a baby girl.

Though she passed away at just 58 from breast cancer, Vivian was a “remarkable woman who built an amazing following” in her community and had a great impact on not just her family, but on her students and their parents. “She had such love for her kids—her children and also the students whom she taught at school and home. She gave them such love in addition to the skills.”

Oma’s OT Room provides services for students in pre-k through fifth grade through Bergen County Special Services and some partnerships with private occupational therapists.

Strassman shared how grateful BPY is to the Berger and Zisholtz families for approaching Head of School Rabbi Zucker “with this idea and the incredible value added to school and program. The specialized and varied equipment complements everything the school is already doing to ensure that students have all the tools they need to succeed.”

By Michal Rosenberg

 

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