Twenty families from Great Neck and surrounding communities on Long Island have been participating in Yachad and the Jewish Union Foundation’s (JUF) new adult day program at the Beth Hadassah Synagogue the past two weeks. In addition, individuals from Yachad/JUF’s Brooklyn day program attended the opening session to give families a glimpse into what the program is all about. Families observed the individuals work on vocational skills, personal responsibility, and the making of gift baskets by Yachad Gifts, a business dedicated to employing individuals with disabilities.
The Yachad/JUF program takes place every Monday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. with the goal to expand the program to five days a week.
In addition to the adult day program, different divisions of Yachad, including its national, summer, and New York department representatives attended the first week’s open house and were available to meet with families about Yachad’s wide array of services. Families met with professional staff in one-on-one meetings to determine how Yachad could assist each family and their own individual needs.
Yachad, the flagship program of the Orthodox Union’s National Jewish Council for Disabilities (NJCD), provides unique social, educational, and recreational programs for individuals with learning, developmental, and physical disabilities with the goal of promoting their inclusion in the full spectrum of Jewish life.
JUF is a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting individuals with developmental disabilities to become as independent as possible. Approximately one year ago, community leaders and families from Great Neck approached Yachad/JUF regarding the lack of daily programming for adults with developmental disabilities. The program launch was coordinated with support from Rabbi Yamin Levy, senior rabbi of the Beth Hadassah Synagogue and the Iranian American Jewish Federation (IAJF). “Our community is excited to welcome Yachad in Great Neck at Beth Hadassah Synagogue,” he declared. “We have a responsibility to everyone in our community, including our special-needs members and friends. The Monday day program is just the beginning. The vision is to have a permanent presence in Great Neck addressing the needs of all our special needs families.”
Jack Gourdji, executive director of JUF, concurred with Rabbi Levy on the successful impact of the program’s Great Neck inauguration. “We were quite pleased with the program’s opening-day launch,” he remarked. “Parents we spoke to were thrilled with the opportunity of having Yachad in their community. Individuals who stayed for the day to experience the program had a wonderful time and now want to come back. The warmth that emanated from Rabbi Levy and his team hosting us certainly led to the uplifting environment felt by all.”
Individuals are encouraged to attend every Monday and can contact Michael Appelbaum at 212-613-8284 or e-mail him at Appelbaumm@ou.org for more information.