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Way to the Western Wall, for people with disabilities…

SHEKEL Petach Tikva at the Western Wall (Enlarge)

While a visit to the Kotel (Western Wall) is considered a basic cultural right enjoyed by most Israelis, for people with disabilities it has all too often remained an unattainable dream – until now. Notwithstanding major logistics, including critical medical supervision, and special travel and safety arrangements, 35 adults with severe disabilities arrived at the Kotel for the first time in their lives, from SHEKEL Petach Tikva.


As each person, accompanied by a parent or staff member, personally placed a note they had prepared, between the stones of the Kotel, visitors and passersby were visibly moved. It was a simple meaningful act, but one that many people with disabilities never get to do.


While at the Kotel, Mr. Dror Teitlebaum, director of SHEKEL Petach Tikva, addressed a group of soldiers at a ceremony they were holding. “We are all on the same human spectrum” said Teitlebaum, “and we must allow people with disabilities to enjoy normal life. We must give them the chance to enjoy and utilize life’s resources at all levels, whether it's being part of cultural life, the economy or other areas of private or public life. We cannot designate them to Israeli society’s backyard. We are here to empower their abilities. That’s our message.”

One of the soldiers was so moved by the sight of people with disabilities enjoying the Kotel that she offered to volunteer at SHEKEL.   

For Dr. Avi Ramot, director of SHEKEL's "Israel Center for Accessibility", which plans and implements accessibility in the Old City, the visit underscored the significance of accessibility work in the area: "You see how making the way from the Dung Gate to the Kotel, accessible to people with disabilities, effects people's lives on a very personal level.” He was happy to report: “in the last couple of years we have begun to see a lot more people who use wheelchairs in the Old City". He went on to stress that the main goal of accessibility plans in the Old City of Jerusalem, is to ensure accessibility for the residents of its four quarters, as well as for visitors who wish to visit its historical sites.

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