A Shloshim service in memory of Mrs. Sarah Behrman will be held at 8:30 PM, Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at “Getzel’s Shul,” 1414 President Street (Kingston Entrance).
Last month, the Crown Heights community lost a visionary educator and advocate for the less fortunate. Mrs. Sarah Behrman, a long time resident of the community, passed away on Monday, June 17, after a lengthy illness. She was 69.
Known for her humor, open home, colorful personality, the musicals she wrote and performed in, and her 18 years of service advocating for and assisting people with special needs, Sarah was a constant source of insight and inspiration to those who knew her. From her garden on Carroll Street, she would dispense gardening advice — learned in the late ‘60s during her three years with the Peace Corps in Ghana — to her African American and Jewish neighbors.
In the early 1970s, Sarah moved to Berkeley, California, where she taught in an inner-city school. When she decided to go to India, two of her friends involved in the Chabad Lubavitch movement met her at the airport and brought her a message from the Lubavitcher Rebbe OBM advising her to go to yeshiva and learn about Judaism.
After finishing her eleven month trip backpacking from India to China through the Himalayas, Sarah did go to a yeshiva, and finally moved to Crown Heights, where she met and married Michoel Behrman and raised a family.
Sarah’s passions remained in helping those less fortunate. Starting in 1994, Sarah began working for HASC, the Jewish educational and clinical social service agency for people with special needs. Touching the lives of hundreds, she lobbied local lawmakers to redefine the way people with disabilities are viewed. Sarah believed that a person is a much larger than his or her disability. By focusing on her clients’ abilities rather than their impairments, she empowered them to make their own decisions, take control over their lives, greatly enhancing their quality of life.
Shortly after joining HASC, Sarah began to work with a young woman whose severe physical disabilities confined her to her home. Realizing that the Internet, still a relatively nascent tool, could help the young woman connect to the outside world but hampered by the lack of money in the budget for Internet access, Sarah called the CEO of AOL to seek help. When his assistant asked why AOL should do this, Sarah replied, “Because it will bring goodness and kindness into the world.” The woman was given a lifetime subscription to AOL.
Due to Sarah Behrman’s unique dedication to HASC, the organization will be naming a room in its offices on East 14th Street in Brooklyn “The Sarah Behrman Conference Room.” HASC will also be giving an annual award in Sarah’s memory to an employee who excels in the person-centered approach to serving people with disabilities.