For the first time in 22 years, Sabrina Cohen was able to enter the ocean on Sept. 21.
“I was 14 the last time I was at the beach,” she said.
Confined to a wheelchair since a high school auto accident, Cohen, 36, runs the Miami Beach-based Sabrina Cohen Foundation, which strives to improve the quality of life for people living with paralysis and other disabilities. With guidance from Executive Director Christos Makos, the foundation recently expanded its mission to include adaptive fitness and recreational initiatives.
Armed with a $15,000 Open Space Grant from The Miami Foundation and help from Miami Beach Commissioner Ed Tobin, his assistant Dessiree Kane and unanimous support from the mayor and city commission, Cohen has helped to create what will become the city’s first adaptive Beach and Playground at Allison Park, 6500 Collins Ave.
Friends and family gathered at the beach Sunday to celebrate. Potential and future collaborators tested out the area and facilities, including adaptive beach wheelchairs and an adaptive surfing program.
“I was shocked to learn that Miami Beach had two adaptive beach wheelchairs that had been broken ‘forever.’ The city had received over 180 calls per month for utilization of those chairs,” said Tobin. “They will now be fixed,” he promised.
Also on hand for the event: Miami Beach commissioners Joy Malakoff and Mickey Steinberg, Miami Beach Fire Chief Virgil Fernandez plus fire and rescue lifeguards (and a slew of uninvited jellyfish).
Plans call for the adaptive beach and playground to be fully functional by fall of 2015. In the interim, there will be monthly programs available onsite.
So how did Cohen feel about going into the ocean?
“The movement, water, salt and the overall experience was so new and exciting for me. It was incredibly empowering to create this opportunity and be able to share the experience with others,” she said.
To learn more, visit www.sabrinacohenfoundation.org.
Temple Celebrates Milestones
Temple Beth Sholom will honor its long-time cantor Steven Haas at 8 p.m. Oct. 3 at the Kol Nidre service for Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year in the Jewish religion.
Haas, 63, who has been with the synagogue for 25 years, has been named cantor emeritus.
“I’m not retiring but simply transitioning,” he explains. “I think of this as the next chapter and I can’t wait to write it.”
Haas will continue to assist bar and bat mitzvah students, plan group trips to Israel and perform his vast repertoire of Jewish, opera, Broadway and pop music.
Lisa Segal will be installed as cantor at 6 p.m. Nov. 14.
On Oct. 7, from 6-8 p.m., the temple will host an opening reception for Miami Beach artist/quilt-maker Flo Moss. Her exhibition features 27 traditional Log Cabin quilts on display through Nov. 19. The reception is free and open to the public.
Temple Beth Sholom is at 4144 Chase Ave., Miami Beach. For a complete list of services/events, go to: www.tbsmb.org.
THE GREAT BIG CHALLAH BAKE
The Shabbos Project was born in 2013 when Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein of South Africa beckoned Jews in his nation “to “observe one traditional Shabbat together.” The goal: To unite Jews across the spectrum to create unity. More than 35,000 South Africans participated (over half the country’s Jewish population) – and the concept went viral.
Today, The Shabbos Project – slated for Oct. 24-25 — has become an international Jewish happening with more than 200 cities in 11 times zones slated to participate.
A group of Miami Beach residents has raised more than $100,000 to promote the overall initiative in South Florida – and kick it off in a big way by inviting all women and girls (ages 11 and up) to attend The Great Big Challah Bake at 7 p.m. Oct. 23 at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
The event will feature Rebbetzin Chani Lipskar (The Shul of Bal Harbour), discussing the religious and mystical significance of women baking challah (a special type of bread prepared for the Jewish Sabbath); challah baking expert Tila Falic Levi will demonstrate the ancient ritual of preparing the dough and forming the loaves into traditional braided shapes. Event chairwoman is Miami Beach resident Linda Bogin.
The quantity of ingredients needed to accommodate the large number of expected participants (convention center capacity is 4,910) is monumental: 12,500 pounds of flour; 80,000 ounces of water; 16,000 ounces of vegetable oil; 18,000 eggs; 2,000 pounds of sugar; 1,275 ounces of yeast and 200 ounces of salt.
Women attendees will each take home two braided read-to-bake challah loaves to be refrigerated overnight and baked at home on Friday.
Tickets are available online at www.tiny.cc//floridashabbos for $20 (adult); $15 student (ages 11 and up) before Oct. 15. Afterward (and at the door), entrance is $25/adult; $15/student.
In the spirit of “keeping it together,” South Florida communities have scheduled an array of Shabbat meals and events. For a complete listing, check out www.TheShabbosProject.com and click on the event link.
Beach Buzz appears every other Sunday, and focuses on people and businesses throughout the Beaches, Aventura and Miami. To reach Debra K. Leibowitz, call 305-531-7887 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or become a fan of her Beach Buzz page on Facebook.