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Co-Chairs of the Negev Gala 2018-from left to right:Jack Lipkin,Allan Finkleman ,Gary Hyman

The Alpha Omega Dental Fraternity Gives Free Dental Services to Holocaust Survivors-The Fraternity along with Dr. Gerald Niznick are the 2018 Negev Gala Honourees

by Rhonda Spivak, October 22, 2017

The Alpha Omega Dental Fraternity, Manitoba Chapter has been providing free dental service for Holocaust survivors since March 2016 as part of the the Alpha Omega-Henry Schein Cares Holocaust Survivors Oral Health Program. It is one of the good works that the Fraternity has been involved in to help people in the community.

The Alpha Omega Dental Fraternity along with Dr. Gerald Niznick are this year's Negev Gala honourees on May 29, 2018 and Dr. Gary Hyman, Dr. Jack Lipkin and Dr. Allan Finkleman are honoured to be co-chairs of the Negev Gala 2018.


Dr. Hyman told the Winnipeg Jewish Review that what makes him so enthusiastic about the upcoming Negev Gala is the project that has been chosen. "We are working to support the building of a new Dental Clinic for children and young adults with physical and mental disabilities in Israel," he says.


"The treatment received at the specialized dental clinic will enable Israel’s most vulnerable members to benefit from the highest quality dental care and hygiene in an atmosphere most suitable and supportive to their needs," Hyman notes. This project is a partnership between JNF and Aleh C.A.R.E.S., Israel’s largest Network of Care for Children with Severe Multiple Disabilities.

Dr. Hyman, who is the current treasurer of the Manitoba Chapter of Alpha Omega Fraternity says that so far "We've treated about thirty people under the Alpha Omega-Henry Schein Cares Holocaust Survivors Oral Health Program with about 7-8 more to go." Hyman has been involved with the fraternity since he graduated in 1970, and in the last 10 years, he says he has been on the executive of the organization.


As Hyman explains, the Alpha Omega-Henry Schein Cares Holocaust Survivors Oral Health Program was launched in November 2014 in the response to the White House’s call to action to help Holocaust survivors age with dignity and respect.

"Manitoba is the fourth Alpha Omega Chapter in Canada to participate in the program, joining the Montreal, Toronto, and Calgary membership," Hyman notes.

"In Winnipeg there are about 60-70 members of the Alpha Omega Fraternity, which began having only Jewish members but today is non-denominational and has non-Jewish members as well. Initially, this fraternity was a Jewish fraternity. Historically, a lot of anti-Semitism was occurring in dental schools, so Alpha Omega was formed in response to that. But, in more recent years, as I have indicated the Fraternity became non-denominational. We are involved in continuing education, and we fund raise for charity and are involved in good works, " Hyman says.

"Survivors can have special oral health needs, as many suffered from prolonged nutritional deprivation and had little to no dental care access as children during World War II," Hyman explains.

Hyman adds that in addition to financial need, patient participation is prioritized by three factors: the elimination of pain, restoration of function, and lack of dental coverage.

In Winnipeg, the dental service is provided to Holocaust survivors through Jewish Child and Family Services (JCFS), and survivors qualify for it based on their income.

“JCFS social workers in the program identify those Holocaust survivors who are at the poverty level and meet the criteria. Russian Jews can also qualify as well since they too were affected by the Holocaust. So, the JCFS social workers identify them and subsequently pass them on to the Alpha Omega ambassador.

“I am the ambassador and my role is to triage the people to determine what their needs are. I then find a dentist in our fraternity who has the right skill set for the kind of treatment required. The service is provided completely free of charge, as each individual dentist takes on the complete cost of care."

“It is a privilege to be a part of this program and we look forward to continuing to help survivors in need within our community,” says Hyman.

Hyman adds that that so far no dentist in the Fraternity has said no to providing the work."


“My role is to pass things around so that everybody gets to do a bit of work,” says Hyman. “If the Holocaust survivor is in the North End, for example, then I try to find a dentist nearby who is are prepared to do the work. "

There are approximately 300 Holocaust survivors living in Manitoba, and approximately 60 would qualify for the program.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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