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Ongoing Updates From The Joint Council of Mechinot

Joint Council of Mechinot marks International Day of Persons with Disabilities

In honor of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, some of our educators talked to us about their experiences with Shibolim, the disability mainstreaming program of the mechinot.

27/03/2022 - 12:12

Rabbi Yonatan Malet, education director of Mechinat Chemdat:

“Shibolim taught me to be attentive, patient, and most of all to look at the student’s world through his eyes. The ability to take the back seat to the student’s nature and needs is the path on which education and growth take place.” Mainstreaming Shibolim students is critical and just the thing for any educational setting, especially the mechinot, which help cultivate ethical people of good character. There’s an opportunity here, through mainstreaming, not just to talk, but to actually fulfill the commandment to ‘love your fellow as yourself.’ Mainstreaming Shibolim students contributes to the group first and foremost by blowing up prejudices about individuals with special needs. Based on my experience, most Shibolim students become the glue that holds the group together, something around which the students are able to coalesce and collaborate. I’m thankful for the privilege of mainstreaming Shibolim students at the mechina, and wish for the program to expand and be an example to the entire Jewish people.”

יונתן מלא

Riki Marsha, head of the Kfar Silver branch of Mechinat Aderet:

“We’re fortunate to be taking part in the program again this year and bringing it into the mechina not only in discourse, but also authentically. Shibolim teaches me and my students a lot about ourselves. In a society where everyone is easily pigeonholed as ‘the other,’ there’s a major need for breaking down walls and closing the rifts by getting to know each other and living together. In day-to-day life, we’re strong with words, but smart after the fact. Shibolim puts us on the spot and challenges us not to look the other way—to be present, to be practical, and also, if there’s an issue, to understand that it can be solved if there’s a will and there’s flexibility. A good group is a group that despite its diversity facilitates a discourse that’s open, sincere, inclusive, and tolerant. That’s how we profit doubly from the presence of a Shibolim student in the mechina. We all grow and become better citizens.”

ריקי מרשה

Efraim Back, director of the Beit Guvrin branch of Mechinat Lachish:

“Shibolim taught me about the world of people with disabilities: how much strength they need and have, how much society—including me—looks straight through them and isn’t conscious of all their needs or options, how much a little awareness and mindfulness can help and make things easier. It’s very important to continue mainstreaming Shibolim students at the mechinot, first of all because it’s their right and our duty to make it possible for them to go to mechina for a year like all other people to the best of their ability. They’re also part of our society, and it’s important for their voice to be present at the mechinot, which represent the diversity of all the different parts of Israeli society. Integrating Shibolim students gives a lot to the group. This isn’t a service year spent taking care of individuals with disabilities. This is living together with them outright, understanding that we all have limitations and we all have a need for understanding and inclusion and accommodations. There’s significant, major attitudinal change that happens during this shared year when it comes to attitudes toward individuals with disabilities and how they’re viewed, and all the students in the group take that with them through life.”

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