Nysha Recent News

From the Heights of New Hampshire to a Torah Scroll Right Down the Block

September 21, 2015

By Mendy Hecht, Hamaspik Gazette

Hamaspik of Rockland County Home Ends Summer with Highs Far and Near

Oh, the lengths you go—or the distances you drive—to give people with special needs the life they deserve.

At least at Hamaspik.

For a good seven hours on Monday, August 10, Monsey residents Mr. and Mrs. Binyomin Eidlisz hit the road to Jackson, New Hampshire—riding the scenic highways and byways of beautiful New England for a four-day summer getaway to breathtaking Mt. Washington.

But they were just coming along for the ride.

The center of the trip occupied the rear seats of the four-passenger vehicle.  That would be Shlomo and Yossi, two of the residents at the Concord Briderheim Individualized Residential Alternative (IRA) group home where Mr. Eidlisz is a Direct Support Professional (DSP).

And work as a Hamaspik DSP consists of the all special-needs direct-care basics, you know—hygiene, meals, medication and, of course, driving 375 long and tiring miles across three states because one of your guys likes travel.

Going the distance

That “ordinary” day at work began at 11:00 a.m., as Mr. Eidlisz and Company departed Monsey, New York in a car loaded with fully-packed suitcases and two gleeful passengers in the back.

About 20 minutes later, the four-door sedan was crossing the Hudson River on the Tappan Zee Bridge, the first of several landmarks traversed en route to New Hampshire via the legendary I-95 interstate highway.

By 7:00 p.m. that evening, with the sun setting over the majestic American frontier that so inspired Teddy Roosevelt, the tired but excited travelers were settling into their cozy rooms at the Econo Lodge Inn in nearby Lincoln, one of several lodging venues as picturesque as their natural surroundings.

The next morning began bright and early, with the two gentlemen getting their breakfast served by Mr. Eidlisz exactly as they like it.  It was then on to the first excursion of the day—the Mt. Washington Cog Railway.

As one of the country’s few and rare authentic cog railroads, the Mt. Washington Cog Railway takes riders from 2,000 to 6,000 feet in elevation, gliding tourists through the occasional clouds along 50 miles of a toothed third rail that allows such trains to climb up and down steep slopes.  Predictably, the Concord residents were agog at the stunning views.

Wednesday, August 12 centered around a three-hour outing on the Mt. Washington Cruise Line, a sizable tour boat that makes the rounds of lovely Lake Winnipesaukee about a dozen or so miles from where the group was staying.

Heights physical, spiritual, emotional

The third day of the group’s trip was the height of adventure in more ways than one.  That’s because, to paraphrase the droll bumper sticker, their car climbed Mt. Washington.

As the point of highest elevation not just in New England’s Presidential Range (6,288 feet) but in all of New England, Mt. Washington was the entire trip’s peak of excitement.

Just getting there is a critical part of the experience, it turns out.

The Mt. Washington Auto Road, which bills itself as the country’s oldest man-made tourist attraction, features a rustic wooden museum at its start which boasts a historical lineup of vehicles that used to carry visitors to the top, from horse-drawn stagecoaches to vintage 1920s automobiles and even classic 1970s vans.

Then you’ve got the Road itself, a semi-private, seasonal paved path that snakes its way up 7.5 miles of asphalt to “the highest point east of the Rockies,” as a museum sign reads.

At the top, you’ll find—as our Hamaspik visitors did—the “Home of the World’s Worst Weather,” or the Mt. Washington Observatory that functions year-round as a weather station, including during Arctic winters when record-breaking wind, snow and ice create conditions that can keep crew shut in for weeks on end.  (Except if they get in or out by snowcat, a winter transport/snowplow vehicle.)

And the views from the top, it goes without saying, gave the Hamaspik visitors the healthiest of “highs.”

The following Sunday, August 16, the two gentlemen had come down from that mountain of physical rejuvenation.  They had driven back to Monsey before the weekend—but segued straight into a spiritual and emotional high that put them right in the center of their immediate Monsey community.

In the mid-afternoon, a local synagogue threw a Siyum Sefer Torah (Torah-scroll completion ceremony), an outdoor parade that celebrates the completion of a new hand-inked parchment Torah scroll—a cause for community joy hitting the streets.

Being right down the street from 68 East Concord Drive as it was, Concord Home Manager Mrs. Shaindel Goldberger had all her “boys” brought out by diligent DSPs Tzvi Cohen, Anshel Sternfeld, Elimelech Weinberger and Yaakov Weiss to participate.

As the gaily decorated central float drifted by, lights, live music and all, the gentlemen had the opportunity to march or roll along with it, even posing for photos while it momentarily stopped.  They also got to dance along with celebrants as they marched by reverentially bearing the Torah scroll under the customary chuppah canopy.

For the two travelers in particular, it was going from one high to another—the former three states away, and the latter of a spiritual state just down the block.

But given the lengths, and heights, Concord staff regularly goes to care for residents, the results shouldn’t be that tall a surprise.