TEANECK, NJ — Yachad, the National Jewish Council for Disabilities, announced its opening of the Mendel Balk Yachad Adult Community Center, which will, initially, provide four nights a week of social activities for young adults with disabilities, creating a “home away from home” experience. The Center will be fully staffed to accommodate the needs of Yachad participants, and evening programs will blend structured learning opportunities in a relaxed, social and caring atmosphere. This is the first center of its kind — launching Yachad’s first ever inclusive community center.
As part of the program, a new van will be purchased in order to provide transportation for members, creating more independence for participants and easing the burden for Yachad parents.
“My husband Mendel Balk was an amazing father, and was especially wonderful with our son Yoel,” said Mrs. Ariela Balk, the benefactor of the Center. “He carried him around everywhere as a baby and young child, and shared his love of people with Yoel. Adults with special needs face unique challenges. While their peers and siblings will often move away and marry, these adults may be left lacking socially. Yachad has been extremely collaborative in exploring this opportunity, and addressing the challenges in offering a nightly program. I am excited to find a special way to honor Mendel as well as help enhance Yoel’s life and many others in similar situations.”
“My vision for New Jersey Yachad has always been to meet the needs of the whole family,” said Chani Hermann, Director of New Jersey Yachad. “Ariela Balk’s incredible generosity is a testament to who the Balk family is. Whenever I spoke with Mendel, he would always speak with such pride about all of his children. I would often send him pictures of Yoel at Yachad events, knowing it would bring him great joy to see Yoel smiling and being with his close friends. We are honored that Ariela has given us the honor to carry on Mendel’s name through this one of a kind Yachad Center. The Mendel Balk Yachad Adult Community Center is going to make a huge impact on the entire community, engaging Yachad participants, high school students, college students and beyond.”
The center will be directed by Racheli (Ambinder) Israeli, a veteran Yachad staff member, formerly serving as a Yachad chapter coordinator, a Yad B’Yad counselor, and most recently, the assistant program director of Yad B’Yad. Basi Eisenberg, noted interior designer, designed the center’s interior, generously volunteering her time to create an innovative and beautiful space.
“All of us at the OU share in the excitement of the opening of The Mendel Balk Yachad Adult Community Center,” said Allen Fagin, Executive Vice President of the Orthodox Union. “We are deeply grateful to the Balk family for their extraordinary generosity. This new Center will allow Yachad to substantially expand its inclusive programming in a warm and embracing environment. It is truly a unique endeavor for Yachad, one we hope we can replicate in other communities as well.”
For more information, contact Chani Herrmann at firstname.lastname@example.org.