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Thursday, May 19, 2022
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In advance of last year’s 2021 Yachad NJ gala, which was held virtually due to COVID, I published in this space the closing portion of my remarks from the event the year prior, at which my wife and I were honored. I touched upon how challenging it has been for my wife and me, both of us with siblings with special needs and with tons of experience in the special needs world. We still found it quite difficult to adjust and adapt to the fact that our son Zev will never be independent and do all that his mainstream siblings are or will be able to do. I ended by saying that we would not be where we are today without Yachad’s help. All of this is still true.

So how can I really top that or say it better or differently? That isn’t easy or simple. So let me just give you a straight update on what Yachad is up to in our lives today.

Now that COVID is being downgraded from a pandemic to an endemic illness, and the world is slowly returning to a sort-of normal, it is so special for us to have our Zev come through our door at 7 p.m. most weeknights after his evening at the Mendel Balk Center. We love asking him who he saw, what he did and who was there with him at the center. We have been so impressed to hear, night after night, about students—from Yeshivat Frisch, Yavneh Academy, RYNJ, MTA, Na’aleh, TABC, Kushner and Heichal HaTorah—who volunteer and visit the Mendel Balk Center regularly (apologies if I am leaving anyone out). Zev knows many of these students’ names, and some of the older ones have even begun to follow up and offer to take Zev out to local stores or on short trips, which he loves, and we benefit from as well. Kein yirbu to that!

We have also noticed that several local rabbis from the community have begun to be invited to visit on Thursday nights (or whenever it works for the rabbi’s schedule) to share some ruach and chizuk with the young adults at Yachad. So too, with this, kein yirbu!

To our local rabbis: If you are reading this and haven’t signed up for a night to visit Yachad, I hope you will strongly consider it. I can practically guarantee that you will be well-received as the Yachad members are a pretty upbeat audience and likely won’t criticize anything you say in person or on social media or to your board. And most of all, I believe you will leave feeling even more strengthened and uplifted than when you came in.

It was also quite nice for our son to be invited to his own Super Bowl party with Yachad. Zev really couldn’t care less about what is going on with the game or what is on the TV, but we know the party was something he looked forward to, as he just likes being around his peers and friends.

We are looking forward to the return of the Yachad shabbatonim, which Zev always loved to attend, and to which we loved having him go. We hope that communities that used to host Yachad in the past will be able to do so again in the future, although we also recognize some of the challenges in finding housing today. The bottom line is that we continue to be grateful and satisfied parents and our son Zev is a happy Yachad member. May that always continue as well!

With all of the above in mind, I invite you to join me at the upcoming Yachad NJ Annual Gala set for next Motzei Shabbat, March 5th. This year’s event, which was unfortunately postponed by two months due to the COVID omicron variant, will thankfully will be held in person this year, is honoring Ronit and Ammnon Wenger (Guests of Honor), Batya Jacob (Keter Shem Tov Award), Evan and Shana Carmen (Young Leadership Award), and Tammy, Josh and Tova Stern (Yachad Family Award).

For online reservations or to donate please visit www.yachad.org/njgala. I hope to see you there!

By Moshe Kinderlehrer/
Co-Publisher, The Jewish Link

 

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