The National Jewish Council for Disabilities Will Host Its 20th Annual Family Shabbaton in Waterbury

May 3, 2006
To Celebrate the Progress Made In Educating the Community on People with Disabilities

Connecticut Grand Hotel in Waterbury
Friday, May 19 – Sunday, May 21, 2006

The twentieth anniversary of the Orthodox Union’s National Jewish Council for Disabilities (NJCD) Family Shabbaton — its most anticipated event of the year — will take place Friday, May 19 – Sunday, May 21 at the Connecticut Grand Hotel in Waterbury.

It is expected to be the largest Family Shabbaton to date with a capacity attendance of close to 600 people, including Yachad and Our Way members, their parents and extended families.

Yachad, the flagship of NJCD, provides unique social, educational, and recreational mainstreamed programs for communities throughout North America for youth and young adults with developmental disabilities. Our Way provides programming for members of the Jewish community who are deaf or hard of hearing. The goal of both programs is inclusion of its members into the general Jewish community.

There will be a special slideshow presentation reminiscing on the past twenty years, with individual testimonies from family members being presented throughout the weekend. Programs and speakers will be geared toward the individual needs of both Yachad and Our Way, which will join together for synagogue services.

“Twenty-one years ago not only was there no Family Shabbaton, but no opportunity for people with disabilities to be included in the Jewish community,” declared Dr. Jeffrey Lichtman, National Director of NJCD. “This twentieth anniversary is not just our largest Family Shabbaton with close to 600 people, but is an opportunity to celebrate the strides we have made in educating and sensitizing the broad community. For, indeed, we are beginning to bring people with disabilities into virtually every facet of the community — from synagogue to school to work.”

In a setting of warmth and love, parents and siblings of Yachad members will have the opportunity for mutual support and networking as they receive vital and timely information. Featured speakers will include Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hirsch Weinreb, Executive Vice President of the Orthodox Union; Dr. David Pelcovitz, nationally acclaimed author and lecturer on issues that address parenting, adolescent development, and child-related issues; and other specialists in the field who will discuss facilitating socialization and independence; positive behavioral support; employment; accessing residential opportunities; and financial planning. There will be sibling groups for ages nine-and-up and child care services for ages up to eight.

The Our Way program, including the prayer services, will be interpreted into American Sign Language. There will be a complete children’s program of activities. Speakers will include, Dr. Pelcovitz; Steven Lependorf, a psychologist in Brooklyn whose practice centers on families with deaf and hard of hearing members; Rabbi Shmuel Bravman, a Brooklyn rabbi with close ties to deaf families; Pnina Bravman, the director of the Auditory/Oral School of New York; Carol Rubenstein, who works for the New York Board of Education, providing services for deaf families; and Dr. William Schwartz, an audiologist with a private practice in New Jersey. They will discuss a wide array of topics such as communication in the family; updates in the technology of cochlear implants; dealing with stress; the importance of Jewish peers; and the hashkafah (Jewish outlook) and halachah (Jewish law) concerning the deaf.

To register for this event and for information on costs and available scholarships, contact:
Yachad – Chani Herrmann, Director of Clinical Services, at 212-613-8373 or herrmann@ou.org.
Our Way – Batya Jacobs, Program Director, at 212-613-8127 or jacobb@ou.org.