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Co-Presidents of The Alpha Omega Dental Society-from left to right: Drs. Jack Lipkin, Allan Finkleman , and Gary Hyman

Lobby and entrance to the Aleh Dental Clinic in B'nei Brak. Note the circular walk way, which allows wheelchair and stretcher access when elevators are not used.

Ceiling in operators at Aleh Dental Clinic

Door to operatory at Aleh Dental Clinic

MB Chapter of The Alpha Omega Dental Society, which began as a Jewish Fraternity, Delivers Lunches and Dinners to Front Line Care Workers in Hospitals Battling The Coronavirus

by Rhonda Spivak, May 5, 2020

The Manitoba Chapter of the Alpha Omega Dental Society (Fraternity), which began as a Jewish Fraternity but today is non-denominational (with both Jewish and non-Jewish members) has made a $5000.00 donation in the form of meals to front line hospital health care workers battling the coronavirus.
"We wanted to do something and we decided to commit $5000.00 to drop off lunches and/or dinners  to all front line care workers in emergency departments and intensive care units at The Heath Sciences Centre, St. Boniface Hospital, and Grace Hospital," says Dr. Jack Lipkin, who is Co-President of the Manitoba Chapter of the Alpha Omega Dental Society. The other Co-Presidents are Dr. Gary Hyman and Dr. Allan Finkleman.
Dr. Lipkin explains that the Alpha Omega Dental Society was founded in 1907 in  Philadelphia out of necessity "as a Jewish Fraternity to fight the racism, antisemitism and undemocratic culture of dental and medical schools at the time." At the turn of the century, Jews were being ostracized and marginalized by both student body and faculty alike  in dental and medical schools and it became evident that the only way to attempt to effect fair play was to band together in a fraternity for a common purpose. Today the non-denominational fraternity's foundational guiding principles are oral health and wellness; promoting social justice and tikkun olam”  ( 'repairing an ailing world’ ).  The focus of the fraternity during the last three – four decades has beeen on education and charitable endeavours.

"About a  month ago we dropped off  pizzas from Mona Lisa in the amount of $1000.00 to all health care personal in emergency departments and intensive care units at Health Sciences Centre, St Boniface and Grace hospitals. One week later we dropped off 900 sandwich pieces from Norm' N Nates in the amount of $1000.00. Then the next week we dropped off Sushi Burritos (dinner) from Chosabi in the amount of $1500.00 to the three hospitals and Chosabi matched our donation in kind. This past week we had two runs  of Tim Horton's coffee, muffins and donuts delivered to the three hospitals plus Seven Oaks Hospital," says Dr. Lipkin, who notes that the Manitoba Chapter of Alpha Omega Dental Society has 60-70 members.
However, as Lipkin points out "Grace Hospital refused our last Tim Horton's drop off. They are getting stricter in terms of letting foods in."
He adds, "We still are committed to  having one more drop off  of food but we are re-evaluating things. Thankfully, Manitoba has had relatively few cases of coronavirus patients in hospitals so the need is not that great right now. We are standing by with our last donation." 
Lipkin notes  that they'll see what develops once the economy opens up, as there could be more coronavirus cases and if so they can send the last drop off of food later on when the hospitals need it most.

The Alpha Omega Dental Society (Fraternity) and Dr. Gerald Niznick  were the 2018 Jewish National Fund Negev Gala honourees and Drs. Hyman, Lipkin and  Finkleman were honoured to be co-chairs of the Negev Gala 2018.


 As Dr. Hyman told the Winnipeg Jewish Review "The project chosen for the Negev Gala 2018 was the building of a new Dental Clinic for children and young adults with physical and mental disabilities in Israel.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. 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."


The dental clinic has been built in Bnei Brak, just north of Tel-Aviv, and is scheduled to be opened in June 2020 (unless the coronavirus pandemic causes delays). Dr. Hyman, who visited the clinic in November 2019 says that  "it is a fabulous facility" and the need for it is very great. He adds "that the kids that will go to it are severely handicapped. There are four operatories. Most of the kids aren't physically able to walk so they need lifts in order to be treated."


Dr. Finkleman, who also visited the new dental clinic when it was being built in 2017 notes that it is part of a "huge" facility. "The facility contains doctors, physiotherapists and teachers and most kids who are severely disabled come to the facility daily."


Dr. Finkleman adds that "There  are no stairs  in the facility and the kids go up in an elevator. However, if the elevator power were to be shut off, the kids would go up using a ramp not stairs. Some of the kids are in stretchers and couldn't go up staircases."


Dr. Finkleman  states that "the complex  is at the forefront of innovation for kids in the field of special needs and disabilities."


Dr. Finkleman notes that when he was in Israel in 2017 he saw the old facility which was located in Ramat Gan. He had the privilege of seeing the kids at the facility then, and knows first hand how "fabulous" the new facility with the new dental clinic is. 



The Alpha Omega Dental Society Manitoba Chapter has also provided free dental service for Holocaust survivors since March 2016 as part of the the Alpha Omega-Henry Schein Cares Holocaust Survivors Oral Health Program. Dr. Hyman explains 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. The dental service is provided to Holocaust survivors through Jewish Child and Family Service (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," Dr. Hyman says.



Dr. Hyman, who is the current treasurer of the Manitoba Chapter of Alpha Omega Dental Society says that so far "We've treated about 50 people under the Alpha Omega-Henry Schein Cares Holocaust Survivors Oral Health Program, which 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.


"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," Dr. Hyman explains.
Dr. Hyman adds that his role is to triage the people JCFS has identified as meeting the criteria for the program 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."
Dr. Hyman says that in that 2019, "about a half a dozen survivors were treated."
He notes that that "so far no dentist in the Fraternity has said no to providing the work."  
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.