JNF leaves no one behind
February 8, 2019
Jewish National Fund is once again calling attention to people with special needs and disabilities during Jewish Disabilities Awareness, Acceptance, & Inclusion Month. As part of its focus on improving quality of life for all in Israel, JNF-USA is dedicated to ensuring that no member of Israeli society is left behind. Observed each February, JDAAIM was founded in 2009 by the Jewish Special Education International Consortium to raise awareness and encourage inclusion for people with disabilities and special needs.
People with disabilities make up the world’s largest minority group. Globally, around 10 percent of the world’s population lives with a disability of some kind. One in 10 people in the U.S. suffer from a disability. Over 10 percent of people in Israel have some form of a disability that can make life’s daily activities a struggle. These statistics are just the beginning. Take into account the family, friends, and loved ones of those with disabilities who are also affected, and these numbers skyrocket. This is where JNF-USA and the importance of JDAAIM help.
“Many people with physical, emotional, and developmental disabilities in Israel feel alienated from their communities and sometimes the entire family feels marginalized, complicating an already challenging life,” said JNF-USA Task Force on Disabilities Director Yossi Kahana, whose son has autism. “At Jewish National Fund we open the doors to acceptance and inclusion, and we are changing lives for thousands of children and their families every day.”
Throughout the month of February, JNF-USA is hosting events across the country to highlight JDAAIM, featuring representatives from the organization’s partners to raise awareness of and foster inclusion for people with disabilities and special needs. Through a variety of initiatives, JNF-USA provides cutting-edge rehabilitative services, special education, and medical care for people with cognitive, sensory, communicative, developmental, and other disabilities. In addition, JNF-USA makes its forests, parks, picnic areas, playgrounds, nature trails, lookouts and recreational facilities inclusive for all visitors, ensuring that everyone, regardless of their ability level, is able to enjoy nature with their friends and family. JNF-USA’s partners in this mission include:
ALEH Negev-Nahalat Eran: A state-of-the-art rehabilitative village in the Negev, ALEH Negev offers unparalleled care for people with severe disabilities, empowering residents and outpatients to help them reach their potential for communication and development.
LOTEM-Making Israel Accessible: LOTEM brings people with special needs closer to nature through field trips, accessible hikes in JNF-USA’s first inclusive park, and creative workshops in nature that have been adapted to the needs of participants and for people of all ages.
Red Mountain Therapeutic Riding Center at Kibbutz Grofit (RMTRC): RMTRC provides weekly horseback riding therapy to nearly 200 children and adults with physical and mental disabilities, as well as emotional and behavioral issues in Israel’s Central Arava Valley region.
Special in Uniform: An innovative and unique program, Special in Uniform integrates youth with disabilities into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), and assists in preparing them for careers and independent living following the completion of their military service.
Like all of JNF-USA’s efforts for the land and people of Israel, its work for those with disabilities and special needs takes place every day. Over the last year, JNF-USA and its partners have:
• Provided services for over 55,000 people.
• Hosted over one million visitors with LOTEM at JNF-USA’s Nahal HaShofet inclusive trail.
• Created a pathway for 360 participants to join Special in Uniform, expanded the program’s presence to 25 IDF bases, and seen 52 soldiers graduate and successfully integrate into the workforce and Israeli society.
• Administered more than 10,000 individual outpatient treatments at ALEH Negev and welcomed 143 permanent residents at its rehabilitative village.
• Provided 10,000 therapy sessions at Red Mountain Therapeutic Riding Center for 230 riders, and 9,200 sessions for 160 children through JNF-USA scholarships.