The OU’s NJCD Will Host Its Highly Popular Family Shabbaton in the Greater Midwest Region, Mar 9-11

11 Jan 2007


The Orthodox Union’s Yachad/the National Jewish Council for Disabilities will hold its first ever Midwest Regional Family Shabbaton in Chicago, with participants invited from all over the Midwest. It will be held at the Northbrook Radisson, Friday, March 9 to Sunday, March 11.

The annual national Yachad Family Shabbaton has been held on the East Coast with great success, and with an attendance exceeding 500. Now, due to popular demand, a regional program is being presented in the Midwest.

“The Family Shabbaton creates a unique setting where our Yachad members are the stars, families interact, and where everyone grows. The Shabbaton is truly a beautiful and unique experience for everyone involved,” declared Dr. Jeffrey Lichtman, National Director of NJCD.

Yachad, the flagship of NJCD, provides unique social, educational, and recreational activities for communities throughout North America for youth and young adults with developmental disabilities. It strives to enhance the life opportunities of people with special needs and to ensure their participation in the full spectrum of Jewish life.

In line with its mission, Yachad has designed a Family Shabbaton program to include Yachad members, their parents and their extended families.

According to Dr. Lichtman, “In an unparalleled setting of warmth and love, an informal but structured program will provide parents with the opportunity for mutual support and networking. Siblings,” he continued, “have a similar opportunity to address their unique issues as brothers and sisters of individuals with special needs.”

The Program Coordinator for the Chicago Family Shabbaton, Efrem Popel, has led the Chicago Yachad chapter since 2004. “My goal for Yachad in Chicago is to foster an atmosphere of inclusion by facilitating friendships between young people with special needs and their non-disabled peers through exciting programs and unique learning opportunities,” he said.

Workshops led by distinguished professionals will ensure that families receive vital and timely information at this first-ever regional Family Shabbaton. Featured speakers will include Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, Executive Vice President of the Orthodox Union, who is also a clinical psychologist. His presentation will address coping with stress and finding strength during trying times. Dr. Lichtman, also a psychologist, will speak on sexuality, marriage, Judaism and developmental disabilities, as well as on creating vocational opportunities when none exist. Other specialists in the field will discuss facilitating socialization and independence; positive behavioral support; employment; accessing residential opportunities; and financial planning.

In addition, highly trained national Yachad staff will be joining the Shabbaton along with experienced and enthusiastic advisors.

The program is subsidized, with limited scholarships available on a first come, first serve basis. For more information and to register contact Efrem Popel, at 773-412-5788 or at