May 20, 2024
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Chani Herrmann to Be Honored at NJ Yachad’s 10th Anniversary Melava Malka

“Though petite in stature, Chani is gigantic in accomplishments,” attested Dr. Jeffrey Lichtman, international director of Yachad/National Jewish Council for Disabilities (NJCD). “She represents a rare combination of competence and concern. She fully comprehends and implements the inclusive design of Yachad, which aims to ensure persons with diverse abilities their rightful place in the Jewish community while helping to educate and advocate to the larger Jewish world for greater understanding and outreach.”

Chani Herrmann will be receiving well-deserved recognition for her 10 years of dedicated service as New Jersey’s director of Yachad, NJCD, at a Gala Melava Malka on November 19. As she is feted to this honor, she will no doubt think back to her beginnings with the organization. Some 20 years ago, Chani Schwartz, a teenager living in Hillcrest, Queens, became involved in her local Yachad chapter as an adviser and eventually as a coordinator and counselor.

A graduate of Yeshiva of Central Queens, HAFTR High School, Midreshet Moriah and Queens College, she went on to pursue a graduate degree in social work, which she earned from Columbia University’s School of Social Work. Her first professional assignment was in the New York offices of the Orthodox Union that housed the Yachad organization. She had served in many capacities within the organization until two things became clear to Dr. Jeffrey Lichtman. The first was that the New Jersey region of Yachad was being under-serviced. Secondly, there was only one individual who could turn the situation around and lead it to success—Chani Schwartz Herrmann.

Chani and husband Daniel moved their family to Teaneck in 2000. The Herrmanns are the proud parents of Atara, 14, Gabriella, 12, Dovid, 11, and Yaakov, 7. From the close vantage point of living in Teaneck, Herrmann was able to assess what was lacking in the Yachad organization and how to go about filling in the vacuum. Since taking the reins in 2006, Herrmann has grown Yachad New Jersey exponentially in the services that it provides for the community.

Yachad’s social/recreational activities have increased dramatically, enabling teens with varying disabilities the opportunity to build genuine friendships with regularly functioning teens as peers as well as advisers. The frequent shabbatonim throughout New Jersey have provided Yachad participants with the thrill of celebrating Shabbat with new friends and families in communities throughout the state. Hosting families attest to the special spirit and meaning that these Shabbatot bring into their homes and volunteer regularly to serve as hosts.

Yachad’s vocational training program has grown exponentially during the past three years, from one participant to 23 working around the neighborhoods in schools, eateries and other commercial settings. Yachad Gifts has made a highly regarded name for itself through providing lovely food and ornamental baskets for Purim and all occasions created by Yachad participants. The organization provides pre-vocational training as well as ongoing vocational counseling to those on the job to ensure their success and stability.

Reacting to feedback from families in the community, Herrmann has instituted support groups for mothers, fathers and siblings of developmentally challenged individuals. Special fun days and trips are provided to siblings through the SIBSHOPS. After-school programs provide participants with opportunities for further social interactions where they can work on improving their social skills in friendly settings. These programs also allow needed respite time for families.

Herrmann’s position includes her directorship of Yachad at Camp Mesorah. Currently there are Yachad programs at 23 summer camps including Mesorah, Morasha, Moshava, Nesher and Lavi to name a few. There is no better opportunity to blend and bond communities than in the relaxed and yet spirited environment of summer camp. The rewards of such a summer experience are shared equally by Yachad members and regular campers. Parents are thrilled at the progress and happiness of their campers who can’t wait to return next summer. Yachad’s Yad B’Yad Summer Program in Israel fills four buses with over 200 campers and staff for 4½ glorious weeks of sightseeing and participating in learning experiences across Israel. The program is all-inclusive with post-10th grade high schoolers interacting with Yachad members.

In speaking with Herrmann about her accomplishments over these past 10 years, she expressed pride in the significant relationships that have been forged in the communities of New Jersey between the Yachad families and the shuls, schools, businesses and families who host Shabbatonim. “Most of all I am proud that we are continuing to identify the needs of the families and individuals within our communities and are able to respond to these needs by offering a wide range of programs from social/recreational to vocational training and referrals for vital medical services.”

For Ken Saibel, the associate director and director of institutional advancement at Yachad for the past 4 ½ years, “Chani Herrmann has grown the face of New Jersey Yachad tremendously over the past 10 years for members and their families. She combines consummate professionalism with genuine, true chen (charm). People connect to her as the expert who can guide and connect them to the best places.”

Miriam and Allen Pfeiffer will be hosting the one major yearly fundraiser for Yachad in their lovely home. Previously held as a breakfast, also hosted by the Pfeiffer family, the skyrocketing costs of an ever-expanding organization convinced the committee that a move to a larger program was indicated. The Gala Melava Malka hopes to attracts even more participants than previously. The elegant evening and sumptuous collation will also feature popular Jewish music star Mordechai Shapiro. The Pfeiffer family has been very involved in multiple Yachad activities through hosting Shabbatonim and through their children’s involvement as counselors.

The chairpersons of the evening consist of local couples who see the mission of Yachad as vital to the participants as well as to the community at large. They include Tirza and Ariel Bayewitz, Rachel and Jason Cyrulnik, Deena and Ari Katz, Rachel and Azi Mandel, Atara and Eric Mauskopf, Gail and Binyamin Rieder, Leora Verbit, Yael and Steven Weil, and Meredith and Kenny Yager.

An integral part of the evening will be the establishment of the Devorah Stubin A”H Memorial Scholarship Fund. The Stubin family, whose son Naphtali is a participant in Yachad, have established this scholarship fund in memory of their daughter who was lost to them in a tragic car accident. The recipients of the funds from the scholarship will be helped to participate in the many wonderful opportunities provided by Yachad.

To RSVP for the Gala Melava Malka on Saturday night, November 19, at 8 p.m., at the home of Miriam and Allen Pfeiffer, 400 Warwick Avenue, contact

By Pearl Markovitz


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