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SHEKEL meets the loving heart of Israel’s kibbutzim and rural villages.

Kibbutz Yavneh’s dining hall was transformed into a beating heart of discussion and action for some 200 representatives of Israel’s kibbutzim and moshavim, who came from all over the country to learn of options for creating inclusion and permanent homes for people with disabilities, within Israel’s kibbutzim and rural villages.

Opening the conference, SHEKEL president, well-known journalist and author, Lihi Lapid, touched the hearts of the participants, by movingly recounting her personal experience of raising a “wonderful child” with disabilities, together with her husband, Yair. Aviad Freidman, chairman of the Israel Association of Community Centers, and father of an autistic son, gave an inspiring talk on the abilities, loving nature, and strengths of his son and other Israelis with disabilities, while stressing the difficult ongoing challenges and struggles facing them and their families.

The audience enjoyed information and insights from a wide variety of lecturers and speakers, including: Kibbutz Yavneh Rabbi, and psychologist, Ilay Ofran, head of Ruach Hasadeh military academy; psychologist, Dr. Arik Taib; former Israeli secretary of state, Ovad Yehezkel; head of adult and aging services for the ministry of labor and welfare, Danny Katz; secretary general of the religious kibbutz movement, Amitai Porat; vice CEO of Israel’s ministry of labor and welfare, Gideon Shalom, and CEO of SHEKEL – Inclusion for People with Disabilities, Clara Feldman. 

Feldman spoke of SHEKEL’s vision and its multiple programs “that work to include people with disabilities from all ethnic backgrounds, within the general community, including secular and religious Jews and Arabs.” Feldman emphasized that true inclusion means integrating people with disabilities in all areas of community life, which means providing a comprehensive continuum of services. To this vital end, Feldman noted, SHEKEL has developed a wide range of programs and frameworks that work holistically to include people with disabilities within the community as a whole. These include: housing, employment, vocational training, culture and leisure, therapeutic services, accessibility and more. 

“People with disabilities have the same dreams and aspirations as everyone else”, stressed Feldman. “If we only give them the chance, they can realize their aspirations and fulfill their dreams, as an integral part of Israeli society.”

SHEKEL, together with the Religious Kibbutz Movement, salute all those who attended the “Meeting Point” conference and showed enthusiasm for including people with disabilities within their own communities.

The “Meeting Point” conference was initiated by SHEKEL and the Religious Kibbutz Movement, in partnership with Israel’s ministry of labor and welfare