Toronto’s Reena agency turns 50 facing middle-aged challenges of caring for older residents with disabilities

Reena residents
Sharon Magor (left) of Reena's head office, some Reena residents enjoy a cooking class on Jan. 18, and Anita Lipman (right) is one of the 1,000 people with disabilities supported by Reena. (Ellin Bessner photos)

Reena was born in 1973 because a handful of Jewish parents in Toronto wanted to keep their disabled children in the community—rather than putting them in an institution.

Fifty years later, it’s the largest Jewish organization of its kind in Canada providing supporting house to people with disabilities.

But as we begin Jewish Disability, Awareness and Inclusion Month, held annually each February, officials at Reena are worried about finding enough housing and support for an aging clientele who are living longer.

The CJN Daily attended the Jan. 18 anniversary party held at the new Lou Fruitman Reena Residence in Vaughan, Ont.

In this episode, you’ll hear from some residents, parents and staff: Brenda Rothenberg, Anita Lipman, Sharon Magor and CEO Bryan Keshen join to talk about the impact Reena has had on their lives, and the challenges ahead.

What we talked about:

  • Learn more about Reena @ 50
  • Read about Reena’s last milestone in The CJN.
  • Ophira Calof wants theatre to make room for disability on the stage in The CJN Daily.


The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. Donate to The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt by clicking here. Subscribe to the podcast by watching this short video.