web analytics
December 22, 2014 / 30 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Yad Sarah’

Yachad Takes Quadriplegic Youth on a Trip of a Lifetime

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

When no one would take Zack Pollak on a trip to Israel, Yachad was there. He, along with 75 other Yachad members and high school students, left last Sunday afternoon for five weeks in Israel on the Yachad summer program Yad B’Yad (YBY – “Hand in hand”).

Special arrangements were made for Zack, who has quadriplegia caused by cerebral palsy. Zack is restricted to mostly a wheelchair or a similar device. As a member of Senior Yachad, the 17-year-old from Passaic, NJ, often participates in Yachad Shabbatonim.

Yachad/The National Jewish Council for Disabilities (NJCD), an agency of the Orthodox Union, is a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the opportunities of individuals with disabilities, ensuring their participation in the full spectrum of Jewish life. Yachad/NJCD promotes Inclusion for these individuals through various integrated activities.

The Yad B’Yad Israel Experience brings high school students together with Yachad members (adults and teens with special needs) to experience the Jewish homeland, Israel, in a new and unparalleled way. Yachad members experience Israel just as their peers do – touring Jerusalem; visiting an Israeli army base, the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea; riding camels; hiking up Masada; volunteering in a soup kitchen and visiting underprivileged children; and participating in special Shabbat programs.

Yachad has already spent close to $10,000 on top of the normal cost to make the trip accessible specifically for Zack, noted Eli Hagler, Assistant Director of Yachad.

Hagler stated, “Because Zack needed a wheelchair accessible program, other trips and programs have not been willing to take the necessary steps. It’s a big undertaking. Zack is a very social teenager, but has often been placed in settings and camps where he socialized with the staff – Yad B’Yad will be so much more than that for him. On YBY, Yachad has arranged for Zack a way to socialize and fully participate with 75 of his peers. Yachad sees the added benefit to both the participant and the rest of the group in making this trip accessible to anyone who wants to attend. Yachad’s tagline, Because Everyone Belongs, could not be more true than in this case. We did what we had to do in order to make Yad B’Yad a trip that anyone and everyone could enjoy.”

To accommodate Zack’s full participation, Yachad ordered a van to hold his wheelchair and other supplies while he traveled on one of two group buses; coordinated only tour routes that were wheelchair accessible; arranged to stay only at hotels and visiting sites that were wheelchair accessible; brought along adaptive equipment such as a special wheelchair designed to help Zack travel on rockier, narrower, and more challenging terrain.

Yachad raised funds for the special chair with Yad Sarah, an Israeli nonprofit that provides a range of services for free or nominal charge to assist the sick, disabled, and elderly. Similarly, this type of wheelchair is what Team Yachad uses in both the Miami and Jerusalem marathons to allow those with a disability to compete in the race.

Last week, Yad B’Yad staff and high school participants received orientations for the program. A special Shabbaton was held in West Orange, NJ, for YBY participants prior to the Sunday afternoon flight.

Rebecca Schrag, Director of Senior Yachad and of Yad B’Yad, said, “Zack has an awesome ‘can do’ attitude, and we are thrilled that he is able to join us this summer. Yachad has really made every attempt to be as accommodating as possible and to make this trip a life changing experience for Zack, as well as all of the other participants.”

Yad Sarah: Finding Lessons In Israel

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

 


“When I first started,” said Beverly Marcus, “I couldn’t sleep the night before because I’d be so nervous, wondering what I’d do and how it would go. And then I wouldn’t sleep the night after a class, either, because I was so excited. It really gives me a high.”

 

That’s been the impact of volunteering as an art teacher for special needs clients at Yad Sarah’s Day Rehabilitation Center in Jerusalem.

 

“I’d always wanted to move to Israel,” said Beverly, and in the summer of 2005, with her children grown and everything falling into place, “the time was right.” She left her home in New Jersey for a new life in Jerusalem – “and I haven’t looked back.”

 

            Soon after making aliyah, Beverly learned that Rabbi Benjamin Yudin would be leading a mission to Israel with Beverly’s former congregation, Shomrei Torah in Fair Lawn, NJ.  She joined the group, which included a visit to Yad Sarah House and a private meeting with Yad Sarah founder and then-mayor of Jerusalem Uri Lupolianski.

 

            Yad Sarah is Israel’s largest volunteer-staffed organization, working out of 104 branches to provide an array of health and home care support services for people of all ages.  Yad Sarah’s 6,000 volunteers lend medical equipment, provide legal consultation and representation for the elderly and reach out to the homebound with visits, portable dental services and the installation of special-needs equipment.

 

After 23 years on the faculty of Kushner Academy in Livingston NJ, where she taught Judaic studies and art, Beverly anticipated continuing to work as a teacher in Israel.  She experimented with teaching English to high school students and tutoring blind and visually impaired students to prepare them for entry in Hebrew University, but found those jobs unfulfilling.  That’s when she remembered her visit to Yad Sarah.

 

Beverly’s understanding of Yad Sarah had changed since that first tour of the headquarters with Shomrei Torah.  Now a three-year resident of Jerusalem, she had learned how prevalent the organization was. “You see Yad Sarah’s vans all around town,” she explained, “and people are always talking about it as the place to go if you need equipment.” She knew the organization was run by thousands of volunteers, and that they would likely welcome another.

 

“It’s kind of funny,” she continued. “I hesitated at first. I thought: everyone volunteers at Yad Sarah; it’s so cliché!” But Beverly would soon learn why everyone in Israel is so eager to volunteer at Yad Sarah.

 

She thought she was ready for a change, professionally.  She hoped to sign on as “a helper,” assisting someone else wherever her services might be useful.  But when Yad Sarah’s personnel department learned that Beverly was an art teacher, they were thrilled – they immediately asked her to lead the art class in the Shikumon, the Day Rehabilitation Center.

 

 


A Purim Project

 

 

Beverly had very little experience in special education; it would be a challenge, she knew, but she took it on. 

 

Assisted by two other volunteers and one young woman doing Sherut Leumi (National Service), Beverly leads a class of 14 women, ranging in age from their late 40s to 70s, who have varying degrees of functioning ability.  Only two of the students are able to walk in unassisted; most use mobility devices.

 

The new role for Beverly has been a perfect fit. “It really is one of the best experiences I’ve ever had,” she said. “I enjoy it very much.” In some ways, she soon realized, it was actually easier than the work she’d previously known; certainly, Beverly said, it’s nothing like working with high school students. “These women really appreciate what I do for them. They shower me with brachot.”

 

Often, the most challenging part is coming up with weekly art projects that engage the students.  The class has already tackled a range of assignments – they’ve designed signs and holiday cards, decorated planters and plates, and used decoupage to transform glass jars into vases – then made flowers for fill those vases.

 

The group has been together for a while, and Beverly enjoys seeing the rapport the women have with each other.  Several members of the group have full use of only one hand, so they work together to use two-handed tools like scissors.  Recently, the women had a rough time when a member of the group died, but there are also many simchas to celebrate, with the students regularly announcing an offspring’s accomplishment or the birth of a grandchild. 

 

The women have welcomed Beverly into their circle, and she enjoys talking to them about her own life. “I share stories with them,” she said.  “They think it’s cute that I’m American. When I struggle for a word in Hebrew, they love it. They help me out, but they really get a kick out of it.”

 

Beverly was right about Yad Sarah – sometimes it does seem like everyone in Israel is connected to the organization.  But there’s a reason so many Israelis are moved to give their time to Yad Sarah: over and over, the work has proven to be a reward for its volunteers as well as its clients.

 

Now, Beverly can only laugh at her original hesitation to join the trend.  “I’m proud to be associated with Yad Sarah,” she said.


 


For more information about Yad Sarah, call 212-223-7758 or visit www.yadsarah.org.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/yad-sarah-finding-lessons-in-israel/2009/07/15/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: