The below excerpt is part of a presentation by Dr Dov Degen at the launch of Jewish Care’s Reach Out, Speak Out campaign.
My name is Dov and I am a medical doctor. Outside the hospital, I enjoy socialising, exercising, travelling and spending time with my fiancé and our pet dog. I also happen to have bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depression.
When I first tell people about my diagnosis, they are generally surprised because I am so high functioning. I have lived with bipolar disorder for nearly 15 years and although I have been affected by episodes of both soaring heights and soul-destroying lows, I have, for the most part, led a productive and relatively balanced life.
I was first hospitalised during medical school but despite this setback, I successfully completed my medical degree with honours and am currently completing my specialist training. When I am well, I am a high functioning and successful individual. I acknowledge my illness, but it is not who I am. Bipolar disorder does not define me anymore than an individual diagnosed with high blood pressure or diabetes.
By Marilyn Kraner, Manager Individual & Family Services
As today is the start of National Homelessness Week 2016 (Aug 1-7), The Jewish Care Individual and Family Services team have had cause to think deeply about what it means to be homeless and what we can do about it. This is a tricky process for all of us; client, worker, supervisor and organisation, as what meaning we make from how we define ‘the problem’ necessarily dictates or points to what we think ‘the solution’ is.
For example, if you think a person is homeless because of a lack of money, you might approach this by providing a monetary solution. Whereas if you think a person is homeless because they are mentally unwell you might approach ending their homelessness through pursuing hospital or psychiatric services in the first instance.
The reality for the I&FS team recently is that we have been supporting 6 people experiencing primary homelessness, some have been moving from night to night through various low cost accommodations. Some are sleeping in their cars and others are more visible, sleeping on the street.
Ben* is a 20-year-old man living with disability in our community. He has been diagnosed with autism and leukodystrophy – a complex condition affecting the white matter of the brain, the spinal cord and vision.
At the time of the diagnosis, Ben was reliant on his mother and refused to eat a variety of foods. So too, Ben often broke his glasses and his mother eventually gave up on replacing them.
In 2013, Ben started to attend our Adult Respite Centre. As a result, he developed his independent living skills and has learnt to cook breakfast and lunch as well as cleaning up after himself.
Ben has also learnt how to do his own laundry. He vacuums his room and mops his bathroom, leaving the Centre neat for the next person.
Last year, Ben brought a bag of small potatoes into the Centre. He proudly said that he had grown those on his own. Following this experience, the respite staff decided to set up two veggie patches to allow Ben to explore his new interest further. Ben was very thankful and since then has made sure to water the veggie patches throughout his stay.
Thanks to gardening and cooking activities, Ben has expanded his nutritional choices and often comes up with new meal suggestions.
Due to Ben’s deteriorating eye sight, our respite staff encouraged him to wear glasses. This has had a profound impact on Ben’s life, helping him to attend the veggie garden and become even more independent.
* Name and image were changed to protect client privacy
Generational experiences of alienation, dislocation and persecution are dominant discourses of both the Jewish community and the Indigenous people of Australia. Whilst there has been mixed opinion about the type of parallels that can be drawn between events and experiences of the two communities, there is no doubt that each has been impacted by formal and informal policies of governments that have sought to reduce their influence and eradicate their existence.
Over the years, leaders from each of these communities have spoken up against the persecution experienced by the other.
In 1938, Aboriginal political activist and community leader, William Cooper stood up against German oppression. Shortly after the events of Kristallnacht, Cooper led a delegation of the Australian Aboriginal League to the German consulate with a petition condemning the Nazi Government’s persecution of Jewish people. This protest occurred at a time when Aboriginal people themselves were been denied basic human rights, subject to horrendous physical, social and economic abuse. Whilst the petition was disregarded, Israel has since honoured William Cooper, marking the significance of this display of support through ceremonial events in both Australia and Israel.
Shelly* always thought she was in control. She was a super mum — working full time, raising four children, cooking and cleaning and partaking in home renovations. Her husband also worked very hard and together they earned a decent living.
Soon after moving to Australia from New Zealand, they bought their first house. It was quite small and required work but luckily, they had experience in renovations and everything seemed fine.
One day, Shelly fearlessly climbed a ladder to plaster the ceiling, only to fall on the tiled floor seconds later. She was rushed into the emergency room with a broken shoulder, rib and teeth.
Shelly couldn’t return to work for 3 months and had to undergo expensive treatments and occupational therapy in order to drive, run her home and return to work.
Meanwhile, the bills were piling up. She was becoming more and more anxious. With the loss of her income, she had no idea how they were going to cope.
Then Shelly approached Jewish Care following a friend’s advice. Jewish Care’s social worker and financial counsellor Josh* patiently sat with Shelly to work through her challenges, bills and extensive paperwork. Josh also negotiated with external organisations on her behalf to alleviate urgent debts. In addition, Shelly received an interest free loan to consolidate her debts.
Shelly was truly grateful for the help she received from Jewish Care at the time of need and registered as Jewish Care’s volunteer to help others.
* Names and image were changed to protect client privacy
To find out more about Jewish Care’s Community Services, please visit jewishcare.org.au, email email@example.com or call (03) 8517 5999
Mary Fisher (nee Malka Boltiansky) was born in the town of Tokmak, Russian Empire in 1912.
During this turbulent time between the Civil War and revolution, many pogroms took place forcing the Boltiansky family to sell their belongings and move to Israel.
Back then, a 12-year-old Malka loved her new home in Tel Aviv. She attended school for the first time as there was no school in her home town Tokmak. As the family had little money, they could not afford to buy Mary shoes so she had to walk to school barefoot across hot sand each day. Mary was so thrilled about going to school she did not mind burning her feet to get there. She soaked up the education and quickly learnt Hebrew.
Galit Ben David’s cooking passion started at home.
Both of her parents, of Persian and Moroccan background, were excellent cooks who taught Galit the love for fresh ingredients, vibrant spices and varieties of tastes.
“One of my first childhood memories,” said Galit, “is of my great-grandmother who lived with us. She used to sit down in front of a huge silver dish to make couscous dough from scratch. She was in her early 90s.”Continue reading →
By Olivia Benkel, Volunteer Resource Program Campaign Coordinator at Jewish Care Victoria
A look, a touch, a smile, can create the most unimaginable heartfelt moment. I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to spend a great deal of time at Jewish Care’s Residential Aged Care Homes.
Having never visited residential facilities before, I had a feeling of uncertainty and fear as to what to expect and what emotions I might feel. I was not sure what I could offer and whether I had any skills that would be beneficial.
On my first day exploring one of the homes, I saw a resident walking past and gave her a friendly smile. Her eyes lit up and I immediately realised that an act so simple as a smile of acknowledgement had given her a positive interactive moment. All of a sudden, the fear and doubt I had just minutes before disappeared and I realised that I could make a difference.Continue reading →
In March, we were fortunate to launch The Coppel & Piekarski Family Disability Respite Centre in Caulfield. Even though the centre planning process started only a few years ago, we owe much gratitude to the pioneers of social inclusion in our community who helped build the foundations of our Disability Services over 40 years ago.
Back in the mid-70s, the Victorian Jewish community was powering ahead with a myriad of communal organisations led by long-term community members, refugees and Holocaust survivors determined to rebuild their lives and establish a future for their children.
However, hidden from view, there was a group of children and adolescents with disability who needed community support while the government funding was still years away.
Willing to change the situation, their parents decided to unite and make a difference.Continue reading →
Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) begins in the evening of Wednesday May 4th and Jewish Care is honoured to be able to release a brand new video to commemorate this solemn day.
‘The Greatest Loss’ is a gripping 15-minute short film that features interviews with 12 Holocaust survivors who have a relationship with Jewish Care as clients, aged care residents, volunteers and donors. They emotionally recount their loss of childhood, family, identity and freedom at the hands of NAZI Germany and its collaborators.
Each person tells their own heartbreaking story of how they managed to survive the atrocities they witnessed and experienced.
This is the first video in a new Jewish Care series titled ‘Rising From The Ashes’ that documents the thoughts and memories of survivors on a number of different topics. Continue reading →