web analytics
January 25, 2015 / 5 Shevat, 5775
 
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Reflections From A Yachad Parent


Yachad-Logo

“Hi Tammy. It’s Penina. It was so nice meeting you and spending Shabbos with you guys last week.  It was such an amazing weekend. I wish we were going back on the shabbaton this coming Shabbos!” This was the message I received on my answering machine the Friday after the Yachad Family Shabbaton. It was from one of the friends I had made over the weekend, a mother of a special-needs child, just like myself. When I heard this message, it put a smile on my face. It also made me want to go on another shabbaton.

Every spring, Yachad, a division of the OU, runs a retreat for families of children with special-needs. As a mother of Tova, a thirteen year-old with Down Syndrome and four other children B”H, I have had to juggle the needs of my special-needs child with the needs of the rest of my family. There have been family outings where I’ve had a shadow come along with us; times I’ve left my daughter with others, and times where we’ve just stayed home.  The amazing thing about the Yachad Family Shabbaton is that there is nothing to juggle. You just show up and Yachad has orchestrated everything.

This year, when we arrived at the Hudson Valley Resort, Tova’s advisor came right up to us and introduced herself.  From that moment, I knew that Tova would be well taken care of for the duration of the weekend. From that point on, I knew Tova would always have a session to go to or an activity to participate in.  For a parent of a special-needs child, this is essential. Even if you have some respite on Shabbos, unstructured time can seem especially long for a child with special needs. This freedom allowed my husband, my other children, and me to use the hotel facilities and get ready for Shabbos with the comfort of knowing that Tova was in good hands.

Sometimes we don’t realize how much our other children need extra attention and special treats.  Yachad understands this and hence provides these things for all of my children on the Family Shabbaton. There were sessions and games for Tova, day camp for my younger boys, sibling sessions for my sixteen year-old daughter, separate swimming times, ping-pong, and a magic show on Motzai Shabbos for everyone.

When we arrived on Friday, I felt like I had come home.  Every family spoke our language. They all had a child with special needs.  All the masks came off.  There was nothing to be self-conscious about. We were able to let our guard down, even if it was for just one weekend.  It was so moving to see how excited the Yachad members, our daughter included, were to be at this shabbaton. It was equally moving to enter the dining hall on Friday night and see so many families with children just like Tova.  More than 600 people came together to share and learn from one another. Thanks to Yachad, we were able to connect with each other in a way that would have otherwise been impossible.

At the Shabbos meals, Yachad sat us with different families so we would have an opportunity to meet a variety of people from a number of different places.  Families came from all over the New York/New Jersey area, but also from as far as Baltimore, Boston, Montreal and Chicago.  The zemiros resounding in the dining room truly enhanced the Shabbos meals.

Throughout the weekend there were multiple sessions offered that were both educational and inspirational.  One particular session was given by Dr. Karen Summar, a developmental pediatrician who specializes in children and adolescents with Down Syndrome and their behaviors.  As we sat in this workshop and heard other families describe challenges similar to ours, we truly felt understood.

During Shalosh Suedos, the families joined their Yachad members in a circle to sing and listen to divrei Torah.  This was moving and entertaining. My children especially enjoyed the cheers and songs sung with the Yachad advisors that were led by the Shabbatons, an acapela group that joined Yachad for the weekend.

The achdus at this weekend is so beautiful. It is something we should aspire to in our daily lives. Every type of Jew was at this event -YU, yeshivish, chasiddish, etc. – we are all connected by our special children. We just want to learn what we can from each other. Each one of us was there to help our children and our families. All the barriers that may separate us at other times fell away. Is it any wonder that it is our special children, with their pure neshamos, who can connect Klal Yisroel in this way?

A special thank you to the OU and Yachad for providing this special weekend for our families and to Dr. Lichtman and his staff for making such events possible.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “Reflections From A Yachad Parent”

  1. Wonderful to hear about positive things in Jewish communities ! We need to make sure every Jew is included and has a place.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends an event held at the International Conference Center in Jerusalem of the Taglit Birthright program, where Netanyahu was the guest speaker. January 14, 2015.
Netanyahu ‘Will Go Anywhere Invited’ to Prevent Iran from Achieving Nuclear Weapons
Latest Sections Stories
Dr. Esther Rose Lowy

Dr. Lowy believed passionately in higher education for both men and women and would stop at nothing to assist young students in achieving their educational goals.

book-Lincoln

It’s almost pointless to try to summarize all of the fascinating information that Holzer’s research unearthed.

The special charm of these letters is their immediacy and authenticity of emotion and description.

Why is there such a steep learning curve for teachers? And what can we, as educators and community activists, do better in the educational system and keep first-year teachers in the job?

Teachers, as well as administrators, must be actively involved in the daily prayers that transpire at a school and must set the bar as dugmaot ishiot, role models, on how one must daven.

Often both girls and boys compare their date to their parents.

We love the food, the hotels, and even the wildlife. We love the Israelis.

Few traces remain of the glory days of Jewish life in the kingdoms of Sicily and Naples, but the demise wasn’t due to the eruption of nearby Mount Vesuvius. Rather it was a manmade volcano called the Edict of Expulsion from Spain – and not even an invitation to return in Shevat of 1740 could […]

Garbage in your streets, my city
Wind-blown litter, lonely men

I love you in your blazing heat
my aching feet
dragging in your streets.

These monsters constantly attack
When we dare to try to fight back

With so many new cases of ADHD reported each year, it is important to help children learn how to sit still.

More Articles from Jewish Press Staff
Picture of terror victim with tallis and tefillin.

Eulogies for the fourth Jewish victims at the attack on a kosher deli in Paris last week were held in Bnei Brak Tuesday.

Preserving Israel's Declaration of Independence.

The Declaration of Independence is the first document reflecting Jewish sovereignty since the time of the Hashmonean kingdom.

Aliyah was up by 32 percent compared with 2013.

Just in time for the United Nations Security Council to think twice about recognizing the PA.

The South Carolina senator is another Republican thinking about running to succeed Obama

A faster-beating heart as a result of fear of terror increase the risk of heart disease, researchers report.

Arab media report Syria downed an Israeli drone over Quneitra, near the border between the two countries.

Excavations also turned up hidden tunnels dug by Jewish rebels in the period of the Bar Kokhba Revolt.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/parenting-our-children/reflections-from-a-yachad-parent/2011/10/26/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: