Rocky Selevan appointed Yachad New Jersey regional director.
Chani Herrmann has been involved with the Orthodox Union’s Yachad program almost all her life. She volunteered with Yachad as a high school student, and continued working with Yachad as a college advisor. In her professional life, she has worked for Yachad for the past 18 years; she was founding director of Yachad New Jersey 13 years ago.
Now, Herrmann has been promoted to a national position at Yachad. She is now associate director of Yachad and directly of a brand-new Yachad department, the department of communal engagement.
“My goal is to engage as many Yachad families as possible, and facilitate our services in our regions and beyond. The communal engagement department is the umbrella for all the Yachad regions in the U.S. and Canada, our department of clinical services, advisor engagement and the department of informal education,” Herrmann told The Jewish Link.
Herrmann has witnessed Yachad grow from a small organization to a larger, international one that brings together many facets of the Jewish community, not just families with children with special needs. “In my new and expanded role I am excited to bring my passion for Yachad to a new level. Having been a part of the growth of services in the New Jersey region, I know that our Yachad families need more from us. They want additional social programs that offer more opportunities for their children to be included in the community. The Mendel Balk Yachad Center [an afternoon social program run in New Jersey with an ever-changing schedule of exciting activities run in a beautiful space] is a model I would like to see spread across the country,” Herrmann said.
Herrmann’s skills and dedication have not gone unnoticed at the national level. The strong structure she built, both in physical terms with the New Jersey headquarters, and also professionally and socially, has enabled Yachad to serve many families and allowed many teens and young adults to become involved and partner with Yachad. Not just families with children with special needs are involved with Yachad; Yachad New Jersey welcomes the involvement of the entire community in a number of ways. This, in essence, has made Herrmann and Yachad New Jersey stars within Yachad and possibly an ultimate success story for other communities to model.
“I am thrilled to have Chani bring her dedication and unique skill set to the national stage as associate director, overseeing the communal engagement department,” said Avromie Adler, Yachad’s international director. “I know that she will have a tremendous impact on the entire organization and am looking forward to years of growth on many levels,” he told The Jewish Link.
It was also critically important for Herrmann to leave Yachad New Jersey in the care of someone who feels similarly about Yachad, who also has deep roots and personal ties with the organization.
Raquel “Rocky” Selevan is that person, stepping into the role as regional director of Yachad New Jersey. Selevan spent the last two years as assistant director at Camp Shoshanim. She also worked at the NYU Child Study Center, where she coordinated intakes and worked closely with new families. She also taught at Manhattan Day School and was the youth director of West Side Institutional Synagogue. While her passion for Yachad began in high school as the head of the Yachad club at The Frisch School, Rocky’s true love for Yachad developed during her summers as the director of Yachad in Camp Lavi. Rocky and her husband, Ari, live in Bergenfield with their sons, Tzvi and Freddy.
“I couldn’t be more excited to return to the Yachad team,” Selevan told The Jewish Link. “Just walking through the doors at the new Yachad New Jersey headquarters at 259 Cedar Lane has been a dream. The space is so thoughtfully designed with such impeccable detail; it’s so welcoming and warm. The new space also offers additional program space in order to accommodate our growing number of programs, participants and students who attend the Mendel Balk Yachad Center,” which could not have been created without the skills of Herrmann and Yachad New Jersey’s assistant director, Elinor Solomon, she said.
Some of Selevan’s goals include developing new programs across New Jersey communities and increasing community participation, which would allow for students and young professionals and families to get more involved in Yachad, she said.
“We have a tremendous opportunity here in New Jersey. We have so many amazing individuals who have participated and benefitted from Yachad. As past Yachad advisors, job coaches and counselors move into the community, I feel that it is important to keep up their relationships with our Yachad participants and continue their involvement with Yachad,” explained Selevan.
“I am proud to pass on the leadership of Yachad New Jersey to Rocky. She is a caring and creative professional who will bring new ideas and exciting initiatives to our community,” Herrmann said.
Adler, Yachad’s international director, also added his take on Selevan’s leading of the New Jersey team. “Rocky brings an extremely enthusiastic attitude, and great sensitivity to the work of Yachad. I am excited to see Rocky take Yachad New Jersey to even greater heights,” he told The Jewish Link.
By Elizabeth Kratz