OU Yachad Delegation Visits Congress in Support of ‘Able Act’

30 Mar 2012


Bottom row left to right: Donna Iken, OU, Staffer Liaison, Institute for Public Affairs; Batya Jacob, NJCD Director of Education and Support Services; Rep. Yvette D. Clarke, (NY-11); Avi Tsadok, Yachad Member, Englewood, NJ;

Top row: Danielle Orenshein of Teaneck, NJ, President, Yachad Youth Leadership Council and Senior, The Frisch School, Paramus, NJ; Deborah Berman, Senior Staff Social Worker, Yachad; Akiva Marder of White Plains, NY, Member of YYLC and Junior, Torah Academy of Bergen County, Teaneck; Eli Hagler, Assistant Director, Yachad.

A seven-person delegation from Yachad/National Jewish Council for Disabilities, a program of the Orthodox Union, traveled to Washington this week to meet with members of Congress and their staffs to discuss and encourage the passing of the ABLE Act, which would provide a tax-deferred savings vehicle for persons with disabilities. ABLE would be housed under section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code, which provides the framework for what is commonly referred to as the “529 Education Savings Plan.”

According to Eli Hagler, Assistant Director of Yachad, “The ABLE Act will provide for parents putting away money for their children for pre-school through secondary education tuition and supplies; housing; transportation; job training; health prevention and wellness; and assistive technology and personal support, such as hearing aids and wheelchairs.

“It’s hard enough for anyone to find a job in this market, let alone someone with a disability,” Mr. Hagler said. It is important to make it possible for those with disabilities to be independent and financially secure as they get older. In our visits to these congressional offices, we shared from our own experiences with our Yachad members and their families, and how important it is for us to speak up now to begin the process of helping them to plan for their futures.”

The delegation met with Congresswoman Yvette Clarke of the 11th Congressional District in New York, which encompasses much of Brooklyn, including Flatbush, and which includes the IVDU Schools, a department of Yachad, the Yachad day hab facility and four OU synagogues. According to Mr. Hagler, “Rep. Clarke spent more than 30 minutes with our group, sharing with us her personal connections to the disabilities community and encouraged us to continue advocating on behalf of people with disabilities.”

The group also met with the staffs of Congressmen Howard Berman (CA-28), Brad Sherman (CA-27), Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), Henry Waxman (CA-30), and Senators Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Charles Schumer of New York.

“The reactions were unanimous that there is no question that ABLE is important; the main concern now is how to make it work in these tough financial times,” Eli Hagler said. “We returned home with positive feedback and a sense of support from the offices we met with.”

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