Los Angeles Yachad Hosts Its Second West Coast Family Shabbaton
Los Angeles Yachad hosted their second West Coast Family Shabbaton in Orange County, California, from November 9-11, 2018. The West Coast Family Shabbaton is a weekend retreat designed to offer families with special needs respite, support and information. This weekend gave the entire family a chance to have a Jewish experience where they felt welcomed and included in every facet of the Shabbat experience. The entire family enjoyed great speakers, support groups, delicious food, and fun programming for all ages and siblings. Highlighted speakers included: Dr. Eric Fier, Dr. Jeffrey Lichtman, Rabbi Michael Taubes, and Rabbi Steven Weil.
Over 230 people were in attendance, including 28 families who have someone with developmental disabilities, community members, teen and college aged volunteers, caregivers, and local rabbis. The theme of the weekend was inclusion: inclusion in your family, inclusion in your local community and how to be an advocate for inclusion. Other notable topics were Spirituality within the Family, Mothers/Fathers/Siblings Support Groups, Behavioral Interventions, Comorbid Diagnoses, Sexuality & Maturation, and Mental Health Awareness.
The weekend was a warm and welcoming retreat, with delicious food from Drew Rosen of Nes Events and beautiful accommodations by DoubleTree Hilton. Monica Rukhman, the Director of LA Yachad, welcomed everyone before dinner where she thanked and praised her staff and colleagues for helping her create such a unique opportunity for families. “After having spoken to every family here, it is a bit surreal to see that it has all come to fruition. It is truly my pleasure to work with and help everyone in our community,” Monica said. “A lot of hard work has gone into planning this extraordinary weekend, but I already know it was all worth it.”
Dr. Lichtman, the International Director of Yachad, also gave a welcome address, speaking about the broader vision and mission of Yachad, which is to ensure that every individual has a place in the community. “They are our children and we want them to be a part of our community,” he said.
Parents were overwhelmed with gratitude to take part in this unforgettable experience. “It was such a pleasure to be with other parents and families who ‘get it’ in terms of special needs and can empathize with our life experiences. And at the same time, we also heard and learned from experts in the field. Thank you, Yachad,” Michelle Wolf, parent of a child with developmental disabilities, shared.