New England Yachad Partners With LimmudBoston Conference

November 21, 2013

By Batya Rosner

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As a Jewish educator for more than 30 years, Liz Offen, director of Boston-based New England Yachad, approached coordinators of LimmudBoston, Terri Swartz Russell and Steffi Karp, seeking to include participation for Yachad members and other children with special needs.

Yachad is the flagship agency of the Orthodox Union’s National Jewish Council for Disabilities (NJCD) which provides unique social, educational and recreational programs for children and young adults with learning, developmental and physical disabilities with the goal of their Inclusion in the total life of the Jewish community.

“I thought ‘wouldn’t it be great if I could bring some of our Yachad members to Limmud to share the love, the excitement, the amazing energy of such a positively charged day;’ I wanted to bring the experience of Limmud and the Conference’s love for all things Jewish to my Yachad participants,” Liz stated.

“Our goal is for children with special needs to experience the same wonderful day that typically developed children will have at Camp Limmud. Modifications can be as easy as having adaptive material for crafts, or making room in a circle for someone in a wheelchair… it’s very easy to be inclusive.” They jumped at the idea.

“One of the core principles of all Limmud Conferences around the world is that of diversity and inclusion of all,” noted Terri Russell. “We value accessibility and aim to be accessible to all. LimmudBoston is entering its fourth year, and each year we build upon past years; this year we discussed how we can be more accessible and open to include people with disabilities of all kinds.”

And so for the first time, LimmudBoston will be partnering with New England Yachad in order to extend an invitation to families with children who have special needs to attend the Conference on Sunday, December 8 at Congregation Mishkan Tefila, 300 Hammond Pond Parkway in Chestnut Hill, MA.

With host cities and regions across the globe (literally – Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and South America) the Limmud Conference is a one day event for Jews of all backgrounds and observances to explore Jewish thoughts, literature, culture, and build upon the concept of Jewish identity.

“With Yachad’s leadership and support, this year we hope to provide support and services for our Camp Limmud children (ages 3-13), which runs parallel to the adult conference,” Russell described. “If parents know their children are well cared for then they will be able to take advantage of all that LimmudBoston has to offer. With proper support, their children will also be able to participate to the best of their abilities in our amazing camp program. We’re excited to be partnering with Yachad to begin this process and we look forward to developing support for adults with special needs to attend future conferences as LimmudBoston grows and becomes more established.”

Top educators will rotate through Camp Limmud to engage children with music, drama and storytelling, crafts, dance and yoga, etc.

Liz Offen will assess any special needs to be met, and each child will be paired with a mainstream teen from local Yachad clubs at Maimonides, Gann Academy and The Binah School. “The teen volunteers will be a friend to special needs children,” Offen explained. “If a child needs help cutting a craft, or if they need instruction repeated, the teens will give them the personal attention they need to keep them engaged. If child needs a break, the friend will make sure they take a break that is safe and appropriate, not simply wandering around.”

Registration for Camp Limmud ends Friday, December 6. Walk-ins are welcome. For further information contact Liz Offen at {encode=”newenglandyachad@ou.org” title=”newenglandyachad@ou.org”} or 617-285-0007; or visit limmudboston.org.

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