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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Yedei Chesed recently hosted two special programs of inclusion that took place, respectively, during Shavuot and Shabbat of Parshat Behalotecha. On the second day of Shavuot, 22 young men joined together for Torah learning. This meaningful program brought together young men with special needs and members of the broader community for chavruta (partner) learning as well as informal schmoozing.

Howard Reece, a member of the Passaic community, was ecstatic. “The gift of Torah, which is the essence of Shavuot, was so beautifully illustrated by this inclusion event as boys of all abilities and backgrounds learned together b’chavruta in a Beit Midrash setting. I was really inspired to see so many individuals learning together.” In the spirit of Shavuot, learning concluded with an ice cream social with prizes given to those boys who said a d’var Torah, and each participant earned his prize.

Just one week following Shavuot, a group of young women, representing both Passaic-Clifton and Rockland County, came together for a Shabbat of achdut (unity). Co-sponsored by Kool Kids of Passaic, this proved to be a memorable experience for these young women who were embraced by the community and housed by several wonderful and welcoming families.

Throughout Shabbat, the women sang spirited zemirot and were captivated by words of Torah. They joined with members of the community for all of their meals, as well for a Friday night Oneg Shabbat and special seudah shlishit. Between Shabbat lunch and seudah shlishit, Yedei Chesed’s staff provided individualized attention and care to each of the Shabbaton participants.

One participant ended Shabbat in tears of joy, exclaiming to her mother that “this was the best Shabbat ever.”

A mother of one of the participants also appreciated the experience. “This is the first Shabbat that I have benefited from respite services in almost 17 years. I cannot thank Yedei Chesed enough for this wonderful, innovative program.”