Thousands of Jews from across the world have volunteered with ALEH, an Israeli network that cares for children with severe disabilities.
The organization is highlighted because of the Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month, an over a decade long tradition, which started out as a grassroots movement.
“I was incredibly nervous because I had never worked with children with disabilities before, but everything changed for me the moment I walked through the door,” says Jordan Margolis, a resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who is spending his gap year at Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh and volunteers weekly at ALEH. “There’s an energy that I had never felt before, and it drew me in. I know now that it’s a special blend of unconditional love and true acceptance.”
ALEH volunteers come from all walks of life. Dr. Violet Esser, a retired dentist from Toronto, Canada, spends much of her year knitting blankets for babies and toddlers at ALEH. She then hand delivers them to a center in Jerusalem when she visits Israel during Hanukkah.
“As human beings, we can never be done learning and growing, and I always look forward to returning to my family after gaining such deep insights into the human condition," Esser said after a visit. "“It just feels right to spend my time in an environment where human dignity and the respect for each individual is of the essence, where they regularly accomplish the feat of converting disability into ability."
ALEH is the largest organization in Israel that cares for children with multiple severe disabilities, who require support for basic functions. The network services over 750 children.
ALEH operates in Israel, United Kingdom, United States of America, Germany, Spain, Holland, Canada and Switzerland.
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