June 16, 2024
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MDS and Yachad Have A Special Connection

While the term “social distance” has been a very ubiquitous one this year, MDS has continued to find creative ways to live its mission of fostering community, and a sense of “together.” During the past two weeks, the eighth grade students engaged in programming with Yachad, the Orthodox Union’s organization dedicated to enriching the lives of Jewish individuals with disabilities and their families, by enhancing their connection to Judaism through social and educational programs. MDS managed to create a moving and inspiring program that both students and Yachad members could enjoy.

“We felt it was important to do everything possible to make our annual Yachad program happen,” says Melissa Appel, student activities coordinator. “Our goal was for our students to interact with Yachad members on multiple occasions in different settings to develop innate inclusion.”

After sensitivity training that opened their eyes to the trials and triumphs of those with disabilities, the eighth grade students participated in a Zoom game night with Yachad members where they were placed in breakout rooms together and had the ability to meet one another virtually. Said Emma Rapfogel, “It was a great activity and an even greater opportunity to share fun and smiles while getting to know my new Yachad friends.”

On Motzei Shabbat, the students and Yachad members logged onto a musical Havdala service with performer Mordy Weinstein, followed by a cookie decorating activity, yet another way for them to connect with each other. “The program helped me appreciate how children with disabilities experience things the same way we do,” said EJ Erber.

“For over 10 years, the partnership between Yachad and MDS has been incredibly strong,” said Stephanie Sugarman, junior program director of Yachad New York. “We look forward to continuing this partnership for years to come.”

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