NY Yachad Gala Dinner - June 11, 2018

Yachad, the National Jewish Council for Disabilities, a division of the Orthodox Union, will host its annual New York regional gala dinner, held in tribute to disability inclusion pioneers Rabbi Abraham Wahrhaftig z”l and Caryn Pollak, as well as in honor of Adira Katlowitz, Young Leadership award recipient. The event will raise funds for crucial inclusion programs for the community and celebrate the dedication of its new Caryn Pollak a”h West Hempstead Yachad Chapter, named in memory of a beloved, long-time Yachad member and leader.

The NY Yachad Gala dinner will be held on June 11 at 6:00pm at Congregation Beth Shalom, at 390 Broadway in Lawrence, NY.

The New York Yachad region continues to grow to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities and their families. Recent developments include the opening of a new Yachad Center in the 5 Towns, which houses an elementary school, adult day program, parent support groups, Sunday morning Torah learning and space for social recreational programming. Also, an additional chapter was opened and a coordinator added in the Riverdale community. NY Yachad currently serves hundreds of families across Long Island, Rockland, Westchester, and the five boroughs of New York City.

“Yachad is proud to continue to expand the services, programs and support to the disabilities community throughout NY and beyond,” said Rabbi Ahron Rosenthal, Director of Yachad NY. “We listen to the families and communities talk about their needs, and then work to provide our unique offerings to promote the inclusion of all individuals, no matter their abilities.”

About the Honorees:

Adira Katlowitz has been involved with Yachad since 2001, attending numerous Shabbatonim, Sunday trips and chagigot throughout the NY area. She joined Yad B’Yad as both a camper and a counselor and was the coordinator for the Rayim Brooklyn chapter from 2008-2009 and the coordinator for National Yachad from 2009-2011. Adira has been a member of Team Yachad since 2009, running with the inaugural team, and has gone on to run 11 races with Team Yachad both in the US and Israel. Most recently, Adira has been involved in the Friends of Yachad young leadership initiative.

Rabbi Abraham Wahrhaftig, z”l, was a member of the Jewish Studies faculty at Yeshivah of Flatbush, a Director of Camp Morasha and the Principal of the Kushner Yeshivah High School. A scholar and avid reader, Rabbi Wahrhaftig was committed to creating informal Torah educational opportunities for all – from students to seniors – and as a camp director was the first to open his camp to youth with developmentally disabilities, spearheading Yachad inclusion summer programs which now serve many children and young adults in over 25 programs in the United States and Israel.

West Hempstead native Caryn Pollak, a”h, was not only a vibrant member of the Yachad community, but a catalyst for its creation.

Caryn participated in virtually every Yachad Shabbaton, trip and summer camp that followed, making lifelong friendships with Yachad participants as well as advisors. Over time, she became Yachad’s spokesperson, accompanying Yachad staff members as they traveled to promote the program in shuls and Jewish day schools throughout the county…

“Caryn made sure we never forgot; simply because she was one of us,” says Dr. Jeff Lichtman, International Director of Yachad. “She was a constant reminder of what is important. She was genuinely happy to have a job she liked, and the family, friends and community she loved. In the best ways possible, she represented all of this population’s potential talents and abilities. If there was a face to Yachad, Caryn was it.” [excerpted from a Fall 2017 Jewish Action article by Bayla Sheva Brenner]

Yachad, The National Jewish Council for Disabilities, a division of the Orthodox Union is a thriving global organization dedicated to addressing the needs of all Jewish individuals with disabilities and ensuring their inclusion in every aspect of Jewish life. Its inclusive design aims to ensure persons with diverse abilities their rightful place within the Jewish community, while helping to educate and advocate for a greater understanding, acceptance, outreach, and a pro-disability attitude.

Please join Yachad on June 11th at Beth Shalom in Lawrence, in recognition of those who have given of themselves to further the mission of inclusion of individuals with disabilities and support their efforts to continuing to meet the needs of the Jewish community. To make reservations for the dinner please visit yachad.org/nygala2018 or email bergmand@ou.org for more information.