Yachad Birthright: Pride and Reflections

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Steven Burg


I’ve seen a lot of inspirational sights in my life but most of them would pale in comparison to witnessing Yachad Birthright visit the Kotel. It is clear that there is no other organization in the world that could give these young men and women with disabilities this experience. From the coordination of Rabbi Dave Felsenthal in America, and the efforts of Menachem Persoff in Israel, to the dedicated Yachad staff led by the energetic Jillian Schutkin, it is an awe-inspiring site. Most folks would focus on the visit to the Western wall.

That was moving, but what touched me the most was watching this group get on the bus. A special bus had been arranged that could load wheelchairs through a special elevator. Once on the bus the wheelchairs were anchored down by clasps. To watch the staff work with the participants to load the bus in a joyous efficient manner was breathtaking. This has been going on for the last five days and will continue for the next five days. Loading and unloading the bus. What would seem to us to be tedious and annoying work is a labor of love for these special volunteers. I cannot tell you how many times I was thanked by the group for the OU’s role in this special mission.

I’ve had a lot of proud moments working for the OU in the last twenty years but none prouder than this.

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.