By now, you’ve probably heard that Shibolim, the disability mainstreaming program of the mechinot, has completed its pilot phase. Now it’s being permanently implemented as a program of the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Ministry of Health. To tell the truth, no one can express Shibolim’s significance better than Shibolim students. So in honor of this exciting moment, we asked some of them to tell us in their own words what Shibolim means to them.
Thoughts on Shibolim
Omer Lapid, alumnus of the Mechina of the Upper Galilee
I have a need to say thank you and show my appreciation. I need to write a piece in honor of the end of the Shibolim pilot, but I don’t really know what to write. To be precise, I don’t know how to explain it, either the significance of taking part in the program or what it means to be an alumnus.
Still, I’ll try, both because I’m both of those things (one in the past and the other now), but maybe even more than that, because I feel that I owe so much to the staff, both current members and those who were there in the past.
So to me, Shibolim is actually a wedding or a program for matchmaking (take your pick )
between two things, each of which is its own story. On one hand, you have us, or actually you have an aspect of us that we don’t like so much, and that’s our disabilities. On the other hand, you have the program to which we wanted to be accepted, in which we’re taking or took part, and which added an awful lot to our adult lives. You’ve figured out by now that I’m talking about mechina. When we aspired to attend mechina, as in a lot of other situations in our lives (in my case, the main example is the army), the disabilities hovered over the process like a big, grey cloud that covers the whole sky and threatens that any minute, there will be a big, scary lightning and thunder storm, and the rain that falls after that will come down in massive quantities and flood away everything on the ground. So, to continue with the metaphor, what happened afterward (at least with me) was nothing short of magic, and some pretty serious magic. Someone got together umbrellas for everyone on the ground, but also made the cloud let down beneficial rain that would fill up every well and water every field, and he made it so that once the cloud had finished doing that, it would move a bit, let the sun come out, turn the sky blue, and let us people go outside and look at it.
“Shibolim let me, or let us, make that dream come true by attending mechina. But it didn’t just deal with the disabilities so we could integrate in practical terms, be it through some accessibility modifications, or guidance and explanations for mechina staff and the rest of the group. It also helped us look at our disabilities a bit differently.”
What that story represents is this. Shibolim let me, or let us, make that dream come true by attending mechina. But it didn’t just deal with the disabilities so we could integrate in practical terms, be it through some accessibility modifications, or guidance and explanations for mechina staff and the rest of the group. It also helped us look at our disabilities a bit differently. It made sure that even if the disabilities did make an appearance, it would be able to help us deal with the difficulties that cropped up from day to day along the way. Finally, and maybe most importantly, it showed us that this is a central part of our identities and gave us everything we needed to use it as a source of strength and to succeed in going as far as possible and do it on our power and to our own credit, while keeping the disabled population in mind and while aspiring to share some part of what we received with the circles around us.
At this time, I congratulate Shibolim on getting to this key milestone, I thank everyone with a connection to the program who helped me integrate at mechina and take part in the program at every stage, and I wish for a wheat field that’s big and impressive, for the seeds to keep ripening and being harvested, and for them to keep giving us the best flour in the world.
“Those who sow in tears shall reap in joyous song” (Psalms 126:5).
I love you. Congratulations to all of us.
A Personal Vision
Yonatan Segev, alumnus of Mechinat Hanegev
Written June 29, 2021
After two weeks of distilling everything I learned and experienced at mechina, I feel that I’ve acquired the skills and understanding I need to go ahead and write down my personal vision and put together a document that contains everything I believe as of this point in time.
During this year, I learned and delved into the mechina’s values and vision, and after thinking about it deeply, I adopted as part of my own set of values the ones in which I believe and that I will try to champion over the course of my life.
I also arrived at the insight that I wanted to exert an influence on Israeli society and create change in disadvantaged groups, with an emphasis on Israel’s disabled population.
"I must remember that the path of action and change is paved with pain and failures and that I do not have the right to give up and capitulate to the events of life. I must adhere to the power of determination, optimism, and perseverance and not fall to the winds of despair, lack of faith in myself, and voices opposed to the struggle.”
As a person with a physical disability who experiences physical and emotional difficulties on a daily basis and gets a bit of a taste of the convoluted bureaucratic world that doesn’t let the Israeli disabled population have equal rights to all other Israeli citizens, with freedom, peace of mind, and basic choice, I promise to work for the rights of disabled people in the State of Israel and for a change in the policy of the government and its ministries that are responsible for the rights of disabled people in Israel. Further, I believe that the situation with which the Israeli disabled population is forced to contend deepens and strengthens socioeconomic inequality in Israeli society and marginalizes a population group with meager means and options.
I promise to promote an inclusive and accepting discourse in Israeli society and to work for acceptance and love of the other and of those who are different, and for equality, the pursuit of peace and justice, altruism, and mutual responsibility.
I promise to do all that is in my power to improve the rights and status of those with handicaps and physical disabilities.
I promise to work to strengthen the self-competence and self-confidence of every person who feels that he or she is not equal to others and to bring about change in the way they think.
I promise to confer on others the values in which I believe and to promote the value of accepting the other and all those who are in some way different.
However, I must remember that the path of action and change is paved with pain and failures and that I do not have the right to give up and capitulate to the events of life. I must adhere to the power of determination, optimism, and perseverance and not fall to the winds of despair, lack of faith in myself, and voices opposed to the struggle.
I promise to work toward and to believe in a day that will come when the rights of individuals with disabilities and physical handicaps in the State of Israel will be equal to those of all the state’s others citizens, and thus to assure absolute equality of rights for the disabled population in the country and reduce socioeconomic inequality in Israeli society.
Shibolim was launched in 2016 as a partnership of JDC–Israel, the Joint Council of Mechinot, the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Settlement Affairs, the National Insurance Institute, the Ruderman Family Foundation, and UJA–Federation of New York. Since then, Shibolim has been administered by the Joint Council. The program’s goal is to enable young people with disabilities to attend mechina.