May 18, 2024
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Yad B’Yad: An Experience Like No Other

At the start of Yad B’Yad I expected it to be like any other program that travels Israel. However, I was really wrong. Yad B’Yad is like no other program, and that is a good thing. Yad B’Yad is Yachad’s Inclusive Israel Experience. It is a summer adventure across Israel that brings together typical high school students (post 10th and post 11th graders) and participants with disabilities. The unique part of this inclusive model is that all participants are just that—participants. As a participant on Yad B’Yad, you aren’t expected to be anyone’s counselor; you are just there to have a ton of fun and make new friends.

I have never been in an environment with so many nice, friendly and caring people, who I am now happy to call my friends. I saw things this summer that were truly amazing. Whether it was one of our amazing Shabbatot or an activity, I was truly amazed at how kind people would act, even if they were having a bad day. You also have the best staff to help guide you to becoming a better person. Our counselors run a ton of learning programs and chaburas and really enable us to learn Torah in an exciting way. I also had a lot of fun doing all the activities. Whether it was singing “Anavim” (our trip song!) many times, or having schnitzel for lunch a little too often, it was always so much fun. Some major activity highlights were jeeping, rafting, water sports and rappelling. And of course, the bus rides together with friends are the best part of it all! One moment I will remember for a long time was our kumzitz at the Kotel on the last night. We were standing there singing b’yachad one last time and the complete unity was felt by the entire group. We had become a family.

Once we all returned home, the reunions were constant. Yad B’Yad is known for being just the beginning of a journey and I didn’t really get it until I experienced it. We’re all now part of the Yachad family for life. Our chaburahs with staff from the summer are continuing, our WhatsApp groups are always active, and we now have weekly emails to keep the group connected. We’re always counting down to being together at Yachad events or Yad B’Yad reunions.

Yad B’Yad taught me some values that I never really cared about before this summer. As a kid, I always had my group of friends, and I never had to worry about whether or not I would be included. However after Yad B’Yad I realized I should have thought about everyone else and made sure they were included. When I went back to school this year, I made sure to take the values I learned on Yad B’Yad and apply them to my everyday life. In school, if I see a kid who is by himself or on his phone, I go ask him to join me or sit with him. I make sure to include everyone in my conversations. Yad B’Yad taught me that being popular doesn’t matter; what really matters is doing the right thing and making everyone feel good about themselves. I’m so glad I made the life-changing decision to go on Yad B’Yad.


Yad B’Yad is having two events this weekend; come and see what Ari is talking about. On Motzei Shabbat (10/30), all 10th and 11th graders are invited to the Mendel Balk Center (259 Cedar Lane) at 8:30 p.m. for the Taste of Yad B’Yad event! Bring your friends and enjoy some food, fun, and swag—and feel a little bit of the Yad B’Yad magic. On Tuesday night (11/2) we are having an info session for parents and participants at the Sheinfeld home (724 Wendel Place) at 8:30 p.m. You can learn all the details of Yad B’Yad and receive a tuition discount! To apply to Yad B’Yad or find out more details, please visit www.yachad.org/yby.

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