July 21, 2024
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Robert Grad Named Fellow in Yachad’s Leadership Program

Robert Grad, a native of Living­ston and graduate of Yeshiva Uni­versity, has been selected to serve as one of three Fellows in Yachad’s new Jewish Communal Leadership Fel­lowship (YJCLF) for the 2014-2015 program year. There were 38 appli­cants coming from all over North America. The other Fellows include Stephanie Weprin from Holliswood, New York, graduate of Queens Col­lege; and Naomi Gofine from Toron­to, graduate of Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women. The pro­gram will enable the Fellows to learn, grow and contribute to Yachad and its role as a dynamic human rights organization promoting disability inclusion. The fellowship will be su­pervised by Eli Hagler, Associate Di­rector of Yachad, and Deborah Ber­man, LCSW, Director of Social Work at Yachad.

Yachad, the flagship program of the Orthodox Union’s National Jew­ish Council for Disabilities (NJCD), provides unique social, educational and recreational programs for indi­viduals with learning, developmen­tal, and physical disabilities with the goal of their inclusion in the total life of the Jewish community.

The Fellows will function as full members of Yachad’s staff, work­ing out of its national headquarters in Lower Manhattan and will be as­signed a primary mentor—a staff member under whose tutelage and guidance they will directly carry out their diverse range of duties within the agency. Additional mentors will provide integrated training and ex­periential opportunities in other ar­eas as needed. Together, the men­toring team will offer opportunities for the Fellows to acquire proficien­cy in disability culture and Jewish or­ganizational leadership. Each Fellow, with supervisory support, will be re­sponsible to begin or continue a special project, or to research a top­ic of interest.

Dr. Jeffrey Lichtman, Interna­tional Director of Yachad, explained, “Yachad has been at the forefront of educating and facilitating today’s youth to become tomorrow’s lead­ers, ensuring that all individuals are included in the Jewish community. There is no question that Yachad has come a long way in educating the community about the abilities of our members, but there is still a long way to go. We hope that the Yachad Fel­lows will quickly become an integral part of the Yachad team going into the 2014-2015 program year. We are hopeful that the three Fellows will go on to successful careers and will al­ways remember their time at Yachad as an important step in their profes­sional advancement and develop­ment.”

Robert Grad expressed his grati­tude for being chosen. “I believe that pioneering the Yachad Fellowship will provide a tremendous opportu­nity enabling me to develop the abil­ity to advocate for those in need and to develop as a leader in the Jewish nation,” he declared.

Mr. Grad, who received a bach­elor’s degree in biology from Yeshi­va University, plans on attending medical school after the Fellowship. “Working at Yachad will prepare me for my future career in medicine and enable me to always look out for those in need. I believe it will pro­vide me the tools to create change when change is necessary in a career where I will be caring for sick, scared, and needy individuals. I plan on al­ways fighting to help those in need and working for Yachad will facilitate that ideal.”

He offered his philosophy on in­clusion. “I have a vision in which indi­viduals with special needs aren’t la­beled and categorized as ‘disabled,’” he stated. “I believe that it diminish­es their self-worth, creates emotional stress and a separation from society. I believe working as a YJCLF Fellow will allow me to make this vision a reality. It will give me the opportunity to con­tinue to develop as a leader for social change and will allow me to contin­ue living my dream of improving the lives of those with various challenges.”

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