April 13, 2024
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April 13, 2024
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Petachya’s Gedelim Beyachad: Serving Israel’s Special Needs Children From Birth Onward

For more than 20 years Petachya has been changing the lives of special needs children and their families by providing a comprehensive range of high quality educational and therapeutic services to those with developmental delays, Down syndrome and other disabilities. By placing a special emphasis on mainstreaming special needs children with a focus on future independence as productive members of society, Petachya empowers clients to maximize their true potential from infancy onward.

While early intervention in Israel can begin with babies as young as 6 months old, Petachya’s groundbreaking Gedelim Beyachad program was created to fill an existing void, relying on philanthropic support to achieve maximum results during this critical stage of development.

Parents are encouraged to contact Gedelim Beyachad as soon as they become aware of a problem. The organization’s dedicated staff will serve as an invaluable source of information and will be able to provide guidance and crucial support at a typically emotional and overwhelming time.

Early intervention is a proven approach that takes advantage of a relatively small window of opportunity to achieve positive results. Gedelim Beyachad’s experienced multilingual staff guides parents as they begin their journey down an often confusing road, helping them through diagnosis and appropriate testing to map out the best treatment options.

Located in Petachya’s Shtilei Aryeh Pedagogic Center in the Sanhedria section of Jerusalem, Gedelim Beyachad serves babies up to 18 months old in and around the city as well as in Modi’in, Beit Shemesh, Maale Adumim and the Binyamin Regional Council. In addition to offering assessments, diagnoses, medical consultations, on-site occupational, speech and music therapies and referrals, Gedelim Beyachad also provides parents with much-needed support through family events, lectures, seminars and retreats by creating an invaluable peer network for those involved.

Gedelim Beyachad is just one of Petachya’s many inclusive programs; others include language oriented kindergarten, preschool for the developmentally delayed, mainstreaming classes, aftercare, rehabilitative day care and a child development clinic.

While Petachya has long been privately funded, its increasing network of services, range of operations, new treatment programs and growing number of facilities has brought with it a need for public support so that it can continue its work as the largest agency of its kind in Israel.

Tzippy Bertman is the founder and director of Gedelim Beyachad and as the mother of two children with Down syndrome, she understands the daily challenges of parenting special needs children. As her own children grew, she began sharing her experiences and expertise with others in similar situations by helping them navigate the complexities of raising a special needs child.

“I have been in that spot and I understand that pain where you think the sky is falling down on you,” Bertman said. “I have had parents tell me that they felt like they were sitting shiva for the child they wanted to have and it is important to have someone who can understand that.”

Bertman said that she has spent hours listening to parents, holding hands and offering solace and guidance for the long road ahead.

“Parents don’t want someone to tell them that everything will be okay, because it really isn’t,” Bertman said. “What we can do is to tell them that it will take time, but they will be able to manage, and that we will be there to help them and that does give them comfort.”

In one instance, Bertman spoke with a mother of a 14-month-old baby whose development appeared to be lagging but whose consultation with a neurologist showed that he did not qualify for Gedelim Beyachad’s special education kindergarten program. Bertman advised the mother to wait a short while before coming in for an evaluation. When the time arrived, it was clear that the baby was not progressing normally and that the gap between him and other children his age was widening.

“We wrote up a report that we sent to the neurologist who knows our staff and he said if we felt that services were needed, he would do another evaluation,” Bertman said. “We helped the mother fill out all of the necessary forms and when she left she felt like her whole life would be easier and that her son would get the right treatment to be able to progress past his challenges so that one day he could be mainstreamed into a regular class.”

Bertman credits her staff for their seemingly unending dedication to both clients and their families.

“Our tradition teaches us the sacred value of saving one life, something that is akin to saving an entire world,” said Bertman. “At Petachya, we save one life a day, thousands of times over.”

For more information, visit Petachya online at www.petachya.org.il/en/ 

By Sandy Eller

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