January 20, 2006
Tamar Fromm had planned
to spend Shabbat in her hotel room. Friday night dinner would entail little more than a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich.
An Orthodox Jew, Fromm, who keeps kosher, brought sandwich ingredients from home in New York to Long Beach, Calif., where
she was attending the annual conference of the American Occupational Therapy Association.
By Friday afternoon, however,
Fromm, an occupational therapist who treats people with multiple sclerosis, had met several other observant Jews attending
the conference in May. Fromm, 25, scrapped her plans for a sandwich dinner, in favor of a makeshift celebration with
about ten Shabbat-observant OTs. They lit candles on the hotel pool deck, and then gathered in a conference room for dinner.
There was schnitzel from a local kosher restaurant, salad prepared by one conference-goer, and a jar of gefilte fish picked
up by another.
dinner launched Orthodox Jewish Occupational Therapy Chavrusa (www.ojotc.org). The caucus advocates on behalf of observant Jews working in occupational therapy, a field that in
the past decade has become increasingly populated by Orthodox women. Though this particular group has long been a presence
in the profession, Orthodox women now account for more than a third of students pursuing master’s degrees in OT at several
New York-area universities, including Columbia University, State University of New York-Downstate, and Touro College, according
to anecdotal evidence.
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