Stephanie Weprin Reflects On “Eye-Opening Experience” As Joel Daner Yachad Communal Fellow

05 Aug 2015
Stephanie Weprin, Holliswood, NY native and 2014-2015 Joel Daner Yachad Communal Fellow.

This past year, serving as a Joel Daner Yachad Communal Fellow has provided me with an opportunity like no other. It has been a year of empowerment and immense professional growth. Going into the fellowship, I knew I’d be a part of an amazing organization and a passionate team, but I could not predict how much experience and knowledge I would take with me from my time at Yachad.

Whether working on Yachad’s many events, running vocational groups for Yachad members, or advocating for disability rights, I have had the opportunity to be a part of so many aspects of what makes Yachad so effective.

What made working for Yachad so amazing was its unbelievable and dedicated staff. From the start of the Fellowship to the very end, it was made clear that the entire Yachad team was there for the Fellows as a resource for whatever we needed. Impeccable supervision was provided by Eli Hagler, Yachad’s associate director and director of the Daner Fellowship; I enjoyed the meaningful, thought-provoking conversational meetings with Dr. Jeffrey Lichtman, international director of Yachad.

Although I have had my fair share of involvement with Yachad and its recreational programs throughout my high school and college years, through Shabbatons and summer programs, it is impossible to appreciate all it accomplishes as an organization without seeing it firsthand. I have been extremely fortunate to have been able to witness these wonderful things, and am forever grateful for this eye-opening experience. Being able to discuss with others, especially those unfamiliar with Yachad, what the organization accomplishes has never failed to leave me with an overwhelming sense of pride.

As an inaugural Fellow, I am able to look back at my year and applaud the establishment of the Daner Fellowship. The position has and will continue to enable Fellows to become involved in all of Yachad’s amazing communal work while continuing the legacy of a great mentor and role model, Joel Daner z”l, for whom the fellowship is so appropriately named. The fellowship has provided me with an extraordinary learning experience and an even stronger passion for Jewish communal work.

I truly feel that as a Daner Fellow I was able to play an instrumental role working for an agency that has accomplished so much in thirty years, in spreading Yachad’s vital mission of Inclusion for all. It has been so special for me to be able to dedicate my time and hard work this past year to an organization I have been so passionate about and that does so much good. I cannot fully express how significant it has been for me to have experienced this year at Yachad before embarking on my professional journey. I could not possibly think of a better way to have spent this post-college gap year that will undoubtedly be influential for the rest of my life. I know that going forward in my career in healthcare, and in all aspects of my life, that I will carry Yachad’s mission with me in all that I do. I plan to always stay involved with Yachad in some capacity or another. Once you are a part of Yachad’s family, you never really leave.

I wish the incoming and future cohorts of Joel Daner Fellows much luck and advise them to take advantage of their time here. Know that you are in a position and have the opportunity to contribute to the dynamics and efforts of Yachad and that you will always have the support to do so. Don’t let the year slip away without wholeheartedly allowing what you will learn at Yachad to resonate with you going forward. Seek out new experiences and opportunities presented to you and create projects you will be passionate about. That’s what I did, and I can look back on the past year with pride.