Yachad to Hold 23rd Annual Family Shabbaton in Ellenville, May 8-10

07 Apr 2009

Continuing with a tradition more than two decades in the making, Yachad will host its 23rd Annual Family Shabbaton at the Honor’s Haven Resort and Spa in Ellenville, in New York’s Catskill Mountains, from Friday, May 8 through Sunday, May 10.

Anticipating an attendance of more than 500 from all over the country, including parents, children and staff, the Shabbaton — an event for families with children with special needs — will feature workshops on topics such as cutting edge responses to autism, Down syndrome, educational interventions, vocational training, social skills, residential opportunities, financial planning and parent support groups. The event will also include lively Saturday night entertainment.

As Yachad has many chapters nationally, in the past family Shabbatons have drawn participants from all over the United States, including Dallas, Houston, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and Chicago, with similar attendance is expected this year.

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

Dr. Jeffrey Lichtman, National Director of Yachad/NJCD, remarked, “The Family Shabbaton has proven to be an amazing agent for positive change! In just one Shabbat-weekend, families have gained tremendous knowledge and insights, which have fostered significant change for them and for their child with special needs. Information, inspiration, and initiation are the hallmarks of this once a year program which supports and drives families all year long!”

The keynote speaker will be Dr. David Pelcovitz of Yeshiva University’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration; he is author of the recently published, “Balanced Parenting,” and whose clinical specialty includes family stress management, transmitting values to children and adolescents, and coping with trauma and loss. One unique aspect of this year’s Shabbaton is additional sessions geared towards parents with children below the age of eight.OU Executive Vice President Emeritus Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, a clinical psychologist as well as a rabbi, will deliver powerful messages as he has in past years.

A parent who attended last year wrote to Yachad, “Having the opportunity to meet with national experts like Dr. Lichtman, who have so much to offer and are so supportive, is just amazing and helpful.” Another parent stated, “There is something very unique and special about being with other families who are travelling on the same path and feeling like you are not alone.”

“What I liked most was the support groups, they were great,” commented the sibling of a Yachad member. “I felt very comfortable and at ease. The things I and the group shared gave me a new perspective on what it means to be a big brother of a disabled child.” A parent stated, “Yachad always goes the extra mile to help my family be able to attend the Shabbaton each year and has assisted us with scholarship aid to ease the cost. We would not miss it for the world!”

The program is highly subsidized, with the cost for an adult $245 for the entire weekend. The cost per child ages 7-11 (sleeping in parents’ room) is $95; the cost per child ages 7-11 in a separate room with other children is $125; children ages 3-6 are $75; and children under age 3 are free. Limited assistance is available on a first-come first- serve basis.

According to Family Shabbaton Coordinators Chani Herrmann and Dr. Michelle Orgel, in a letter to Yachad families, “If you have not yet participated in this marvelous experience, please consider doing so. The Yachad Family Shabbaton creates an unparalleled setting of warmth and love. This informal but structured program provides parents with the opportunity for mutual support, networking and the opportunity to learn so much from top flight professionals and with each other. Siblings have a similar opportunity to address their unique issues as brothers and sisters of an individual with special needs. The Family Shabbaton creates a unique setting where our Yachad members are the stars, families interact, and where everyone grows.”

For more information and to apply, visit www.yachad.org or contact Chani Herrmann at 201.833.1349 or herrmann@ou.org; or Dr. Michelle Orgel at 212.613.8172 or orgelm@ou.org.