OU’s Yachad/NJCD Presents ‘Academy Awards’ on Dec 17, Third Annual ‘Oscar’ Benefit Event

30 Nov 2007


Following 2006’s and 2005’s highly successful “Academy Awards” for leading performances in support of people with disabilities, presented by the Orthodox Union’s Yachad/ NJCD, the program returns once again this year with “Yachad Oscars: A Benefit and Awards Ceremony.” The “Oscars” celebrate the “Jewish community’s dedicated individuals who have consistently delivered outstanding performances on behalf of Yachad/NJCD.”

Yachad ‘Oscars’ will be held Monday, December 17, beginning at 5:30 p.m., at the Hudson Theater, Millennium Broadway Hotel, 145 West 44 Street. The presentations will start at 7:30 p.m.

“Yachad,” the flagship program of the National Jewish Council for Disabilities (NJCD), provides unique inclusive social, educational and recreational programs for individuals with developmental, learning and physical disabilities.

“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate our Yachad award winners and thank our deserving honorees,” declared Jonathan Halpert, Ph.D., NJCD Chair. “The annual Yachad Oscar night celebration presents us with a wonderful opportunity to simultaneously praise the achievements of our Yachad participants while recognizing the support and professionalism of our honorees.”

“‘Oscar’ night is an opportunity for the larger Yachad family to come together in celebration of all the achievements of our Yachad participants and staff,” declared Dr. Jeffrey Lichtman, Director of Yachad/NJCD. “Families, staff and participants will all enjoy an evening that celebrates Inclusion and that awards recognition to some of the special ‘actors’ and ‘actresses’ who play on the Yachad stage and help to bring the magic of Yachad to the broader Jewish community.”

There will be a pre-theater buffet reception from 5:30-7:00 p.m. and a “curtain call” at 7:30 p.m. Following the program there will be dessert. Every guest will receive a “Playbill” listing the distinguished “Who’s Who” in the cast, along with personalized “advertisements” in honor of the evening’s Oscar winners.
To host another enjoyable Yachad Oscar’s evening, Jeff Braverman, returns in his role as Master of Ceremonies from last year’s performance. He is the Director of Camp Nesher in Pennsylvania, which plays host to Yachad members as an integral part of its program.

A mentalist, Ted Saint James, will entertain the audience with his mind-reading skills.

The Yachad Oscar winners are:

• Yad B’Yad Yachad Family Oscar: Dr. Steven and Sharon Albert and daughter, Rachel, of Plainview, NY, have been extensively involved with Yachad. Rachel, who is considered the “frontrunner” in the family when it comes to Yachad activities, first expressed interest in working with families with development disabilities at the age of twelve. During her participation in NCSY events, she discovered the Yachad program and signed up for the Yad B’Yad summer, in which mainstream teens, such as Rachel, serve as peers to Yachad members. The Yad B’Yad summer clinched Rachel’s life’s calling. “I couldn’t get enough,” she says. “I am addicted to Yachad; I really love it.”

• Yachad Family Oscar: Shmuel and Tzirl Goldman, Chaim and Family, of Brooklyn, NY, were introduced to Yachad when looking for a structured and enjoyable way to occupy their 14-year-old son Chaim on Shabbat and non-school days. “It was like the world’s best kept secret,” says Mrs. Goldman. Chaim attended his first Yachad Shabbaton with his summer camp counselor and loved it. The Goldmans were sold; they enlisted Chaim as a full-fledged Yachad member. Over the past six years, he has participated in almost every Shabbaton, as well as Sunday Good Sports programs, RBC, Yachad at Camp Morasha and now as a student at Yachad’s IVDU High School.

• Professional Leadership Oscar: Eta Levenson, of West Orange, NJ, supervised and nurtured many of Yachad’s flourishing programs that continue to enrich the lives of many Yachad members and their families. She earned her Bachelors in Social Work at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where she worked as staff social worker at Hadassah Hospital, and went on for her MSW at Adelphi University in New York. Under her tutelage, the Yachad Family Shabbatonim increased from 50 participants to over 500. She also introduced the successful social work student internship program.

• Community Leadership Oscar, Sam and Jane Sutton and Family, of Brooklyn, NY, first became involved with Yachad when their son Elie attended a Yad B’Yad summer program as a peer to a Yachad member. After Elie’s first Yad B’Yad summer, Yachad was looking for a home to host its Flatbush Shabbaton. He asked his mom and dad if they would consider offering their home. “After seeing the great experience our son had with Yachad, we said: ‘Of course!” says Mrs. Sutton. “We’ve been hosting it every year since.” They welcome up to four or five Yachad members as sleepover guests for Shabbat, as well as holding a lively oneg in their home on Shabbat day. Their other children have also become very involved with Yachad.

For more information, or to purchase tickets, contact Elaine Grossman, at 212.613.8350 or salvite@ou.org.