New Platform Offers Digital Community For Individuals With Special Needs
NEW YORK – The Orthodox Union’s (OU) Yachad, the leading group for individuals with disabilities in the Orthodox community, has launched “Yachad On Demand,” a new digital platform for those with special needs to communicate during these times when personal interactions are being stymied in light of the spread of COVID-19.
Yachad On Demand offers a plethora of virtual programming including online support groups, Partners in Torah, educational materials and events – such as cooking demonstrations, shiurim, pre-Shabbat schmoozes, games etc. The Yachad IVDU school system and their Day Hab programs have continued online with all-day virtual classes and programming. An online buddy system has launched on the site as well.
Yachad is hosting weekly live programs through Zoom and Facebook Live including shiurim, cooking shows, hangouts, exercise classes and support groups. Other offerings will include small group and personal chats as well as a video library on YouTube. These programs are available to all, current members of Yachad and those from other organizations alike.
For more information about Yachad On Demand, visit: https://www.yachad.org/yachadondemand.
Additionally, Yachad partnered with Sruly.org and Moxtra to create a safe and secure platform for individuals with developmental disabilities to connect and foster meaningful personal relationships with pre-assigned “buddies.” The instant messaging platform was created specifically for people with developmental disabilities to provide a safe place for them to socially connect with others, who have all been vetted beforehand. The application is accessible from computers, phones and tablets and currently has seen more than 350 users sign up for these one-on-one connections.
“Yachad has a rich history of bringing best-in-class inclusive programming to the Jewish community,” said Orthodox Union President Moishe Bane. “Finding opportunities to acknowledge and include people with varying abilities especially during such a turbulent time, is not only a tenet of our faith, but our responsibility as well.”
“While we all feel the impact of social distancing, it is particularly challenging for those with special needs who heavily rely upon in-person interconnection,” said Orthodox Union Executive Vice President Allen Fagin. “Yachad On Demand offers them the face-to-face interaction while following social distancing protocols. The technology allows us the opportunity to create programming tailored for their benefit”
“The special needs community has been impacted tremendously by social distancing requirements,” said Yachad International Director Avrohom Adler. “For so many, in-person programs are part of their education and real-world training and the consistency of the programming is integral for them. By harnessing technology, we’re able to provide that consistency and sense of community during these difficult times.”
Founded in 1898, the Orthodox Union, (OU), serves as the voice of American Orthodox Jewry, with over 400 congregations in its synagogue network. As the umbrella organization for American Orthodox Jewry, the OU is at the forefront of advocacy work on both state and federal levels, outreach to Jewish teens and young professionals through NCSY, Israel Free Spirit Birthright, Yachad and OU Press, among many other divisions and programs.