Since early November, students at Jewish day schools and Hebrew schools across North America and the United Kingdom have been learning about the care, rehabilitation and advancement of children with severe disabilities, and creating beautiful ‘Sensory Chanukah Cards’ to brighten the Festival of Lights for the residents of ADI (formerly ALEH Jerusalem and ALEH Negev-Nahalat Eran), Israel’s most comprehensive provider of residential and rehabilitative care for individuals with severe disabilities and an international advocate for disability inclusion, equity and access.

The Sensory Chanukah Cards workshop is part of the organization’s ‘ADI Bechinuch’ disability inclusion programming, a collection of virtual and interactive modules developed by ADI’s special educators that highlight the importance of inclusion and transform the students into disability advocates and agents of change in their own communities.  The cards, which include bright colors, interesting textures and 3D elements that are fun for the residents to look at and touch, are being delivered to the ADI centers in Jerusalem and the Negev by the boxful, showing the residents how much they are loved and underscoring just how easy and beautiful inclusion can be.

Hundreds of beautiful ‘Sensory Chanukah Cards’ made by students in North America and the UK during their ‘ADI Bechinuch’ workshops are the highlight of the holiday for ADI’s residents with severe disabilities.

“Now more than ever, we need to teach our children empathy and compassion, and the ADI Bechinuch programming employs fun and engaging lessons, activities and simulations that open the students’ hearts and minds to the needs and challenges of others,” said Elie Klein, ADI’s Director of Development for the US and Canada.

“For example, this Chanukah-themed workshop first teaches the students how art therapy is used to help our residents with severe disabilities reach their greatest potentials before encouraging the students to use the same mediums to enhance the holiday for the ADI residents.  In addition to presenting them with a compelling reason to do something thoughtful for others, the creative process becomes an opening for a class discussion about the abilities that can be found within every disability and how the students can promote disability inclusion in their own communities and beyond.”

With international travel banned and extreme sterilization protocols in effect at the ADI centers to shield the immunocompromised residents from infection, the Sensory Chanukah Cards have taken on an added level of importance this year.

“In a typical year, hundreds of people from across Israel and around the world – schools, synagogues, youth groups and Jewish Federations – make special plans to visit the ADI centers during the month of Kislev and shower our residents with gifts and attention, sing and dance with them, and help them create special seasonal crafts,” explained Shlomit Grayevsky, Director of ADI Jerusalem.  “But this year is anything but typical, and our residents have been missing the extra attention from their extended ADI family.  Receiving these beautiful Sensory Chanukah Cards has turned everything around, and the ADI residents are smiling from ear to ear.  It is without a doubt the highlight of their Chanukah.”

Students at the Ramaz School in New York City show off the ‘Sensory Chanukah Cards’ they created to brighten the holiday for ADI’s residents with severe disabilities.

In the months ahead, the ADI Bechinuch partner schools will continue to explore the importance and impact of disability inclusion by completing other virtual and interactive modules.  In February, they will also participate in ADI’s ‘Make the Change Challenge,’ an international accessibility design contest to mark Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion Month (JDAIM).

To learn more about ADI and to donate, please visit adi-israel.org.

About The Publishers
ADI
ADI (formerly ALEH Jerusalem and ALEH Negev-Nahalat Eran) is Israel’s most comprehensive provider of residential care for individuals with severe disabilities, the leader of the national rehabilitation movement, and an international advocate for disability inclusion, equity and access. While empowering hundreds of Israel’s most vulnerable citizens – children, adolescents and adults – to advance well beyond their initial prognoses and live happy, dignified, and meaningful lives, ADI is also establishing fully inclusive communities and laying the groundwork for the provision of the highest-level rehabilitative care for all.
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