Mazal Tov! "Yachad House" for Social Integration Opens Its Doors to The Special Needs Community
The "Yachad Gifts" Project trains and employs people with disabilities and helps them integrate into the work force.
This week, OU Israel participated in the inauguration of Yachad House, a project that employs people with special needs and prepares them for full integration in Israel's work force. The project also offers daily programming, Shabbat hospitality in communities throughout Israel, special outings, summer camp experiences –all of which are fully integrated. Members of OU Israel's upper management team, including CEO Rabbi Avi Berman and Assistant Director Haim Pelzner, participated in the grand opening of Yachad's new home, which will house offices, an employment-training center, and a shop that will be operated and staffed by people with disabilities. The mezuzah was affixed to the new premises by OU Israel's R' David Katz.
For the past several years, Project Yachad, which mainstreams English-speaking people aged 6-75, has offered confidence-building activities, life-skills classes, and more, for special-needs olim and their families. The Yachad shop sells gifts and gift packages created by people with special needs in a unique, inclusive, integrative environment.
Yoel Sterman, Director of OU Israel's Yachad Project, explains: "Creating appropriate training and employment opportunities enables people with special needs to mainstream into the community completely and to make a respectable living. Customers from around the country and around the world hold this project in high regard, and enjoy purchasing gifts and gift packages created by people with special needs."
"This year, we decided to open a shop in which people with special needs can work in an integrative environment; it's important to us that it's done together, " adds Yoel Sterman.
Rabbi Avi Berman, CEO of OU Israel, explains why the project was initiated. "The Torah commands us to assist those who have different needs, and to accept all members of the community equally. It is our privilege and our responsibility to enable every person to live with dignity. It's so exciting to see the progress, to see our vision for Yachad take shape. The Yachad House is a place that represents the central values of human dignity and acceptance of the other. We are happy to be a part of this family and this great vision."
Photos credit: Netanel Ariel