Yachad and Our Way to host 22nd Annual Family Shabbaton, May 30-June 1, at Famed NY Resort Hotel

16 May 2008

For years, members of Yachad and their families have spent one Shabbat a year together in a warm, friendly setting to share their experiences and offer mutual support and networking. For the past nine years, members of Our Way have joined them. This year, the tradition continues. Yachad and Our Way of the Orthodox Union are proud to present the 22nd Annual Family Shabbaton, to be held Friday-Sunday, May 30-June 1, at Kutsher’s Country Club in Monticello, NY, in the Catskills Mountains.

Yachad and Our Way are two components of Yachad, The National Jewish Council for Disabilities (NJCD). Yachad, for children and adults who have developmental disabilities, and Our Way, for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, both provide educational and social inclusion programs.

The Shabbaton promises non-stop activities and top-notch amenities, which will include both an indoor and outdoor pool, miniature golf course, racquetball court, tennis courts, and a childcare program run by Rabbi Yair Jacobs, a noted children’s program coordinator. There will be programs for families participating together as well as training and classes for parents and siblings that take place while Yachad members enjoy group activities with energetic advisors. Because of the very different needs and concerns of Yachad members and their families and those of Our Way participants, each division provides its own, separate program. The two groups join together for a fun Saturday night activity.

A featured presenter will be Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, OU Executive Vice President, who will speak to Yachad about emotional intelligence and self-esteem.

Dr. Jeffrey Lichtman, National Director of Yachad/NJCD, notes, “This is the rare opportunity for parents and siblings of children and adults who have special needs to enjoy a Shabbat with no self-consciousness about how their loved one acts or appears. This weekend is a model of inclusion, where everyone is welcome. It is also a chance for families to learn and grow from the outstanding workshops and through networking, resulting in what is often a transformative experience.” Dr. Lichtman, a psychologist, will give a presentation to Yachad discussing sexuality and residential possibilities, and will be providing individual consultations to families.

Rabbi Mayer Waxman, Assistant National Director of Yachad/NJCD, says, “This Shabbaton allows for a bonding experience between people who face similar issues. This is the chance for them to meet people not in their immediate circles, to realize how much they have in common, and to share and grow together. The outstanding uniqueness of the weekend is heightened by the opportunity for both Yachad and Our Way families to meet and interact.”

Batya Jacob, Program Director of Our Way, declares, “Once again, Our Way is excited to welcome families with deaf and hard of hearing members to our annual Family Shabbaton. From a small core group of 50 nine years ago, we have grown to a strong group of over 200 participants. This year, we will delve into the social-emotional growth of our children, their interactions with peers, and the importance of communication within families.”

Workshops will address a wide range of topics, including specific issues regarding autism, Down Syndrome, vocational skills and school-related issues, and will include parent support groups. Among the workshop presenters for the Yachad program, in addition to Dr. Lichtman, are:
• Dr. Pamela Ventola, Yale Child Study Center, who will speak about issues such as behavioral interventions, vocational training, and social skills development;
• Dr. Ronen Hizami, a psychiatrist with extensive experience with special needs families, who will speak about understanding different medications;
• Dr. Stephen Glicksman, a developmental psychologist at Women’s League Residences who specializes in child development and behavior management, and
• Dr. Alex Bailey, a clinical psychologist who specializes in child development.
Presenters for the Our Way program, in addition to Rabbi Weinreb, will include:
• Dr. Rona Novick, Senior Psychologist, Adolescent Psychiatry, North Shore-Long Island Jewish Hospital, who will speak about building self-esteem in teenagers, and
• Sheila Lependorf, who will speak about practical developmental markers parents should be looking for.

Special transportation will be provided for families traveling from Brooklyn or Manhattan, as well as for those who would like to attend the Israeli Day Parade in Manhattan on June 1.

The cost of the weekend is $240 per adult. The cost for children ages 7-11 is $95, and $70 for children ages 3-6; children under age 2 are free. Yachad and Our Way offer further subsidies as needed so that the entire weekend, all amenities and programs included, is available at an affordable price.

For more information, contact Chani Herrmann at 201-833-1349, or e-mail herrmann@ou.org.