Thursday, July 31, 2008

Are non-OJs welcomed at Ohel?

A guest post by TikunOlam

So, if you have been around this blog for a while, you likely know that my family has been working toward becoming foster family. We went directly through the state to obtain our certification but I decided to contact Ohel recently to see if there was a chance we could work with them toward having a Jewish child placed in our home. A family member had recently shared that he thought that I might be incorrect in believing that Ohel would not work with non-OJs. And with the strife that bringing a non-Jewish child into our home is apparently causing some extended family members, I figured I should at least make the inquiry before I made any further assumptions. It is not like I wouldn't *want* to foster a Jewish child, in fact, I would love to, I just did not think it would be an option for us. And to me, a child is a child, so their ethnic or religious background was not that important for me.

I am still waiting on a response to a recent email inquiry with Ohel, which is actually the second one, after I was unable to get my answer in the first email exchange. I noticed that on their website, they refer to themselves as a “Jewish Agency.” But I also noticed that in all the pictures of staff and clients, all the people pictured appear to be Orthodox. I explained in my email that I was toward the end of the certification process through the state and asked if Ohel worked with Jewish families of denominations other than Orthodox. I received a polite email back thanking me for my interest and asking me in what state I resided and who was certifying me. I responded with my state and explained that even if it were not possible to work directly with me, I would like to know, in general, in case I knew of other Jewish families in NY who were interested, would they be welcome at Ohel if they were Conservative, Reform or non-affiliated. I am not sure why this question was not answered in the first email. Readers, some of you are more familiar with Ohel than I am. Would they welcome my non-OJ family (assuming my location is not an issue) at Ohel? Or should I not get my hopes up that my family can both welcome in a child in need of a foster family while also helping my extended family to be more at ease with what we are doing?

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