YACHAD NAIM 2011 in Retrospect

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Yachad NAIM
Mr. Aaron Kinderlehrer, Chairman of Yachad’s National Board, accompanies 120 others on NAIM Washington Mission to lobby on behalf of those with disabilities.

When the Yachad | Jewish Disabilities Integration/National Jewish Council for Disabilities (NJCD) program of the Orthodox Union designated February 2011 as its second annual North American Inclusion Month (NAIM), which emphasizes Inclusion of those with disabilities in the mainstream Jewish community, leadership and staff wondered if they could match the unprecedented success of their previous year’s initiative.

The numbers are in, and they’re looking very good – more than 200 synagogues and schools in the United States and Canada signed on to sponsor and host events such as Shabbatons, scholar-in-residence weekends and other activities. In fact, there was such an enthusiastic response that many NAIM events spilled over into March. This year Yachad had an additional focus of working with day schools and universities to help sensitize youth and educators in these settings to the need for Inclusion of those with disabilities.

Eli Hagler, one of the NAIM Project Coordinators and Assistant Director of Yachad, and Dr. Joe Goldfarb, Director of National and Summer Programs for Yachad, declared, “The Jewish communal response to NAIM has been overwhelming. Every day, more and more communities are inquiring how they can get involved. Working together with the community, we are planning amazing programs to help bring awareness to their constituents about the importance of making sure all Jews are included within all facets of Jewish life. The response has been so huge that we had to push many of the NAIM programs to early March. We look forward to NAIM being even bigger in 2012.”

Dr. Jeffrey Lichtman, National Director of Yachad/NJCD, noted, “I’ve received so many e-mails and phone calls from places all over the U.S. and Canada asking for speakers and programs. It is so clear to me that we must continue and expand these efforts to educate communities; to show them how to be more inclusive; and how such inclusion ultimately benefits their community.”

NAIM highlights included:

Participating communities in NAIM included Teaneck, Paramus, West Orange and Englewood in New Jersey; Woodmere, Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan in New York; Houston and Dallas in Texas; Omaha; Los Angeles; Miami; St. Louis; Atlanta; Toronto; Brandeis and Boston Universities; Baltimore; Chicago and the University of Illinois among other locations.

Eli Hagler is a NAIM Project Coordinator and Assistant Director of Yachad

Dr. Joe Goldfarb is Yachad Director of National and Summer Programs

For more information on NAIM, including NAIM in 2012, contact Eli Hagler, Assistant Director of Yachad, at 212-613-8285 or haglere@ou.org

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