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Jewish values and culture are entrenched in all Reena residential and day programs. This policy must be applied in conjunction with Reena’s Judaic trainings and manuals related to kashrut which can be found on ShareVision.


This policy is based on the principle that Reena is a Jewish organization founded to serve Jewish individuals with a developmental disability, with the premise that maintaining a strong religious identity enhances the self-concepts of the Jewish individuals supported by Reena and their integration into their community.


People of all faiths are welcomed into all Reena programs. Participants and their families are provided with an orientation so they may be aware of Reena’s Judaic policy. The procedures establish a framework for a clear understanding of expected Judaic practices and ensure a consistent approach by all staff in implementing Reena’s Judaic policy. Celebration of Shabbat and other Jewish holidays will be observed and kashrut will be maintained throughout all programs and group homes.

Scope and Application

Henceforth the word staff includes students and volunteers. This policy applies to staff, supported individuals and guests/visitors. When outside agencies, supported individuals, families and/or advocates initially make inquiries about accessing Reena services, they are to be made aware of Reena’s Judaic Policy and Procedures.

The supervisor or support worker will work with the supported individual’s family on an ongoing basis to promote an understanding of the implementation of Judaic practices within the framework of Reena’s Judaic Policy and Procedures.


Reena was founded in 1973 to provide an environment for Jewish adults with a developmental disability that was conducive to their integration into both the Jewish and general communities. Previously, Jewish people with a developmental disability were served by non-sectarian or Christian oriented agencies which did not foster their Jewish identity.

The first individuals to live in Reena group homes were Jewish. With the encouragement of their families, they were eager to learn about Judaism and were able to make informed decisions about personal Judaic practices.

The Ministry of Community & Social Services and the Ministry of Community & Youth Services have consistently supported Reena and other faith-based agencies, enabling a mosaic of cultural and spiritual options within the spectrum of social service agencies in Ontario.

Judaic Training

Reena staff are required to take initial and ongoing Judaic orientation and training. Jewish holidays and life-cycle events provide an opportunity to understand and enjoy Shabbat and other Jewish holidays and to support observance of kashrut for staff and supported individuals. It is the responsibility of both the Faith & Cultural Services Department and location and/or program supervisors to ensure that staff have access to Judaic resources and information. Staff use these resources to address their Judaic questions and concerns. They may also contact the Manager of Faith & Cultural Services for clarification.

If staff determine that there are special circumstances that necessitate a modification of the procedures, approval to do so must be obtained from the supervisor and manager.

Shabbat/Jewish Holiday Observance

Shabbat (Friday night and Saturday) and other Jewish holidays are to be observed by:

  • following Judaic laws pertaining to Shabbat (Jewish holidays)
  • lighting candles
  • saying Kiddush and the blessing over the challah
  • enjoying special Shabbat/holiday meals
  • attending synagogue
  • programming with a Judaic component

Staff are to offer sports and recreational programming in keeping with Shabbat and/or other Jewish holidays, such as Judaic stories, songs, drama, games, puzzles, walks, hikes and discussions. Staff will discourage the use of activities not in keeping with Shabbat and other Jewish holidays. Staff and supported individuals should refrain from using electronic devices, on holidays where tradition limits their use. (See handbook)

Staff are encouraged to plan menus in keeping with the spirit of Shabbat and other Jewish holidays.

Staff are to encourage walking rather than driving or using the TTC or Wheeltrans on Shabbat and other Jewish holidays. Driving is permitted if approved by the Supervisor and the program and is in keeping within the spirit of Shabbat or other Jewish holidays. This may include driving supported individuals to the synagogue for Shabbat or other Jewish holiday activities, or to visit with other group homes when walking is not feasible because of the distance. On Shabbat, activities such as shopping or going to a movie, in which supported individuals would spend money, are not permitted.

When at work on Shabbat or another Jewish holiday, staff are to spend as much time as possible in activities related to Shabbat and/or that particular Jewish holiday. Only essential administrative duties are to be completed on those days, such as incident reports, medication documentation, and communication notes. The use of a computer will be limited only to the completion of administrative duties that are absolutely essential and cannot wait until the end of Shabbat or the Jewish holiday.

Supported individuals should not work or attend day programs on Shabbat. When a Day Program is open on a Jewish holiday, programming should be related to the holiday.

Specific holiday observance is to be consistent with guidelines approved by the Faith & Cultural Services Department.

A package of appropriate community resources for Shabbat and other Jewish holidays may be obtained through the Faith & Cultural Services Department.


All Reena designated locations are to be kept kosher and must maintain kosher kitchens.

In keeping with Reena’s Judaic policy, only kosher foods are allowed in identified buildings or programs. Non-kosher food cannot be accepted and brought into designated locations by anyone.

Identified kosher locations are:

  • All staff supported residential environments (group homes, triplexes and non-independent apartments)
  • Battle Centre, Schwartz-Reisman Centre, the Reena Community Residence and other Reena day program locations
  • Administrative public areas (reception areas, boardrooms or as may be identified)

Staff, supported individuals, or guests may eat their home-brought lunches only in those locations with designated lunch room areas where prior arrangements have been made to accommodate non-kosher food. Non-kosher meals must be consumed in areas not designated as kosher.

Supported individuals living independently on their own are encouraged, with appropriate education, to maintain kashrut. Reena respects the lifestyle choices of supported individuals who are living independently.

Supported individuals living independently in shared apartment settings must maintain kashrut if at least one of the other residents requests it.

Reena’s expectations to maintain a kosher kitchen and/or a kosher home include:

  • Only kosher food is to be stored, cooked and eaten in any room of the house, including outdoor areas of the property such as yards, porches, balconies and driveways.
  • Meat and dairy dishes, cutlery and pots and pans are to be kept and used separately.
  • Meat and dairy dishes are to be cleaned separately using the appropriately designated sponges, dishcloths, etc. when either using a dishwasher or washing dishes by hand.
  • All the laws pertaining to Passover are to be observed, including changing all dishes, etc. and only having food marked “Kosher for Passover”. (Please refer to the “Reena PPP – Practical Passover Planner” found on ShareVision.)
  • Anyone wishing to bring food into a Reena location must be informed of Reena’s kashrut policy which stipulates that only food marked kosher (still in its original wrapping and displaying the kosher certification) can be accepted.
  • Staff must refer to “Reena’s Where to get Anything Kosher” guide (found on ShareVision) or check the cor.ca website for details on purchasing kosher foods.

When staff are out for meals with supported individuals, they are expected to eat at kosher restaurants (see “Reena’s Where to get Anything Kosher” booklet found on ShareVision for a list of acceptable restaurants).

Staff should plan outings to take place after meals. If a snack is necessary, they should prepare and bring kosher snacks. If that is not possible, staff are expected to purchase appropriate alternatives (i.e. non-meat products) with the approval of their supervisor and manager.

Supported individuals who are living independently who request that staff accompany them to a restaurant must eat at a kosher restaurant.

Exceptions, when warranted by special circumstances, must be pre-approved by the appropriate manager and supervisor.


Reena’s Faith & Cultural Services Department advocates on behalf of supported individuals to foster relationships with local synagogues and clergy.

Reena’s Faith & Cultural Services Department and Learning & Development Department will educate, train and orient staff and supported individuals about specific Jewish holidays and Shabbat observance to facilitate the “Spirit of Judaism” as an inherent part of the program philosophy.

In keeping with Judaic tradition, Reena respects the religious beliefs of all people and supports the expression of their individual faith.

Staff will encourage the participation of families and advocates in researching community resources to ensure meaningful religious holiday celebrations for all supported individuals.

Staff are encouraged to support individuals in attending celebrations that help them connect with their spiritual or cultural roots.

Christmas trees, decorations and other non-Jewish religious artifacts are permitted in an individual’s bedroom/independent apartment, but are not permitted in community or shared spaces.

As a Jewish agency, Reena does not celebrate other religious holidays such as Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Ramadan and Eid, but respects and supports the observance of the individual’s choice of faith.

Internal/External Fundraising Events

Staff and volunteers are expected to access Judaic resources that are available within the agency to address Judaic questions and concerns.

Programs hosted and led by Reena, Reena Foundation and Batay Reena will adhere to a strict kosher policy. Private meetings or events hosted by a third party to which Reena entities are a beneficiary or participant will make every effort to provide and promote kosher alternatives.

Every effort will be made to avoid planning events, programs and meetings on Shabbat and holidays where office is closed. When in doubt, consultation will be made through the CEO to the annually appointed rabbinic advisor to the board.

Jewish holidays include:

  • Shabbat (closed)
  • Purim
  • Rosh Hashana (closed)
  • Passover (First and last 2 days – closed)
  • Yom Kippur (closed)
  • Chol Hamoed Passover
  • Sukkot (First 2 days – closed)
  • Yom HaShoah
  • Chol Hamoed Sukkot
  • Yom HaZikaron
  • Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah (closed)
  • Fast of Tammuz
  • Chanukah
  • Yom haAtzma’ut
  • Fast of Tevet
  • Lag B’Omer
  • Tu B’Shevat
  • Yom Yerushalayim
  • Fast of Esther
  • Shavuot (closed)
  • Tisha B’av (no celebratory events)

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