Nysha Recent News

At a Hamaspik ‘Brothers Home’ in Rockland County, a Song for a Brother

April 21, 2016  

By Mendy Hecht, Hamaspik Gazette


In Shira Choir’s First Visit, Pro Vocal Ensemble Lends Voice to Fraternity

Naftali Horowitz loves music.

At any Hamaspik or even non-Hamaspik event at which he’s present, he’s likeliest to be found in front of the bandstand, in thrall to the music—absorbing, enjoying and usually waving his hands about in time to the live audible artistry.

Naftali is also a resident of Hamaspik of Rockland County’s Wannamaker Briderheim Individualized Residential Alternative (IRA), the agency’s youngest group home.

Along with his seven peers, Naftali calls Wannamaker home—using the facility as a springboard from which to make the most informed and person-centered choices that people with disabilities have perhaps ever been empowered to make in modern history.

Wannamaker, and all IRA homes under the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities like it, is anything but our parents’ institutions.

Taken seriously as his requests are, then, it was a few weeks ago that Naftali, music in his blood as it is, began talking about getting a visit from his own brother.

Turns out he isn’t the only Horowitz with music in his blood—Joel Horowitz, professional vocalist, is also the vocal choreographer for the Shira Choir community a cappella ensemble.

In early March, brother to brother, Joel Horowitz was asked to visit the Briderheim.

On Monday, March 7, Joel Horowitz and five brothers in song showed up.

For a good chunk of a lovely early-spring afternoon, Wannamaker was on its feet.

Wannamaker manager Joel Horowitz (not to be confused with Joel Horowitz) even reports that two residents often in opposite moods were both in same spirits at the same time.

From 4:00 to 5:30 p.m., the young men sang and danced as they were indulged in a private concert of their own, with the professional vocalists, and accompanying keyboardist, rolling out one classic after another.

At the center of most of it, and standing on a chair to direct proceedings for a good part of it, was a clearly enthused Naftali Horowitz.  Mr. Horowitz was, needless to say, thrilled to not just introduce his brother to his, well, brothers, but to announce their song choices, too.

Video clips taken during the proceedings and viewed by the Gazette two days later show male bonding at its healthiest—a bunch of buddies jumping up and down to their favorite tunes.

Some dozen melodies and 90 minutes later, Shira (which means song) left.

But the music—and the harmony—remained, lingering in the air long after the last note.