Alumni Spotlight: Dana Pais

The osrui blog

Home » Alumni Spotlight: Dana Pais

Alumni Spotlight: Dana (Nadel) Pais

Camper and Counselor 1994-2002

The OSRUI community is filled with wonderful alumni. We are excited to highlight some of our alums, what camp means to them, and learn more about what the great work they are bringing to the world. Know an alumni we should spotlight? Email

In this blog you’ll learn more about the impact camp has had on alum Dana and the incredible work she is doing in Chicago.

By the time I was 18, I had spent 50% of my summers at OSRUI–it was/is a part of who I am. I was a camper and counselor between the years 1994-2002 in Kallah, Tzofim (camper and counselor), Chavurah, Mosh, Chalutzim, NFTY/OSRUI in Israel, Avodah and Machon. If I had to pick just one, my favorite camp spot would be Port Hall because that is where Shabbat Shira was held, and there’s nothing like the magic of bringing the whole camp together in one room to belt out Jewish songs.

Camp had a huge impact on both my personal life and career. My experiences at camp shaped my Jewish identity, connected me to the Jewish community, provided me with lifelong friends and led me to my career. In high school, I was very active in my temple youth group and NFTY, and worked as an aide at Hebrew and Sunday school. In college, I worked at Hillel and interned with the JUF during the summer before my junior year. After college, my roommates were my camp friends, and to this day, the majority of my best friends are still my camp friends, some 25+ years later. It was camp that influenced my engagement within the Jewish community on all of these levels. Now, as a working professional and a parent, I continue to have camp to credit for my choices.

Back when I interned with the JUF during college, I was placed at a school for kids with autism through the JCFS. It was there that I first learned about the field of occupational therapy, and my work there inspired me to earn my doctorate in occupational therapy many years later. I currently run my own private practice, Sensory Success, and work part-time in a suburban Chicago elementary school. I specialize in pediatrics and work with children birth through ~13 who have difficulties with sensory processing, self-regulation, autism, developmental delay, learning disabilities, ADHD, sleeping and feeding. As an OT, I partner with parents to help them promote their child’s development. I also offer coaching and support to not only parents but new moms, caregivers, educators and other healthcare professionals. In addition, I teach Zumbini classes for caregivers and children, birth through 5 years old. From the creators of Zumba, this class is a music and movement program that promotes skill development and caregiver/child bonding. Currently, I am partnering with jBaby Chicago and Temple Chai in Long Grove, IL to bring Zumbini classes to the virtual Jewish community on Friday mornings. I love being able to combine my expertise in child development with my musical hobbies, and promote bonding between children and their caregivers!

My Jewish identity and connection to the Jewish community stemming from my days at OSRUI have also sparked my parenting decisions. When I became a mom to my son 3 years ago, I knew I wanted to send him to Jewish daycare/preschool for exposure to a Jewish education, the Jewish community and Jewish values. He has attended JCYS since he was 7 months old and it fills my heart with joy when I hear him singing “Shabbat Shalom, hey!” around the house on a Tuesday afternoon.