Purim will be an especially festive occasion for members of Yachad | Jewish Disabilities Inclusion, the Orthodox Union agency for those with learning and developmental disabilities, when it holds its Purim party at UCLA, in combination with the OU Seif Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus (JLIC) program there. This will be the first time the two Orthodox Union programs have worked together.
The party will be held at 7:45 p.m. on Saturday February 23, the night of the first Megillah reading. Because Purim falls in February this year, it coincides with NAIM, North American Inclusion Month, the annual Yachad initiative to support the Inclusion of those with disabilities into the full life of the Orthodox community. The Megillah reading will include the PowerPoint presentation created for Our Way, Yachad’s sister agency for the deaf and hard of hearing, in which the text and special effects, such as when to stamp out Haman’s name, are projected on a screen to make following the reading possible.
JLIC, established on 16 campuses across North America, places a young rabbinical couple at Hillel to provide the learning and social atmosphere of the yeshiva for college students who are attending a secular school for the first time. Rabbi Aryeh and Sharona Kaplan are the Torah Educators, as they are called, at UCLA.
“To highlight North American Inclusion Month, Yachad and JLIC at UCLA will be celebrating Purim together,” explained Ian Lurie, himself a UCLA graduate, who is Director of Yachad LA. “We are anticipating a nice gathering of about 100 people and will begin with the traditional Megillah reading, followed by a mini-Purim party. Yachad events in LA are typically run with high school students, but we feel that expanding into the college area is important, for the Yachad members themselves and for the college students to see firsthand what Inclusion is all about.
“This is the first time we have done this event, and thought it would be a great idea, as part of NAIM, to interact with other organizations in the community, especially a fellow OU program which is located right in Los Angeles. Both my assistant, Orit Faguet, and I attended UCLA and were incredibly involved with Rabbi Aryeh and Sharona Kaplan, so when we approached them with the idea, they were thrilled,” Ian Lurie said.
“This looks to be a tremendously successful event, with costumes and inclusion galore. Hopefully, it will encourage other chapters to look at collaborating with other organizations in their areas, both for NAIM specifically, and throughout the year in general.”
UCLA Hillel is at 574 Hilgard Avenue, across the street from campus. For further information, contact lurieI@ou.org, or 310-948-8307.
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