Things change. They remain the same. The world changes around us but the people in the world don’t change. At our best, we adapt.
Yachad is the Orthodox Union’s program for people with developmental disabilities and other learning challenges. Its motto is “Because Everyone Belongs,” and it lives out those words in visible and often extraordinary ways, making clear that just like everyone else, a person with special needs is a person. Not only a person with a full human range of needs, feelings, desires, and the ability to love and be loved, but also a person who can both offer and accept friendship. A person who can be fun.
Yachad New Jersey is one of national Yachad’s most active chapters, overseeing activities across the state from its offices in Teaneck. Before covid hit, those offices were busy all day long; it had vocational training programs during the day, activities for Yachad members and their neurotypical friends after school, and evening-long opportunities for friendship and relaxation at the Mendel Balk Center. It was — and will be again as soon as the vaccines that already have begun to be administered reach everyone who can get them — a place where assumptions about who is capable of what were surpassed routinely.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.