Two organisations have joined forces to provide Jewish people with physical and learning disabilities the chance to visit Israel.
The 10-day trip, organised by Jewish learning disability charity Norwood and education provider UJIA Birthright, is believed to be the first of its kind, and is the culmination of 2 years of planning. During the trip, 8 young people supported by Norwood together with 12 support workers, 2 UJIA Israel Experience educational leaders, a specialist Israeli tour guide, and a specialist Norwood manager, will tour Israel.
They will visit key sites in Israel including the Galil, Western Wall and the Dead Sea, all with specialist programming, accommodation and transport adapted for their needs. Previously, such a trip was an unrealistic option for many parents due to the challenges of meeting their child’s specialist support needs and the associated costs. But with the expertise and financial backing of both organisations, these barriers have been overcome and the trip will be accessible for all. Some of the ancient sites of Israel are by nature difficult for wheelchair users and both organisations have worked to counteract this and find appropriate sites that will be suitable for the entire group. The participants will also be utilising the services of Etgarim, a non-profit organisation that provides outdoor activities for special needs participants on Israel trips to enable the group to go abseiling, rafting on the Mediterranean and other activities that would otherwise be closed to them.
Shoshana Bloom, Jewish cultural manager at Norwood, who will also be joining the group, said: “At Norwood, we believe that everyone, irrespective of their ability or circumstances, should have the same opportunities to live the life they choose. This special Birthright trip, organised in partnership with UJIA, will enable some of the people we support to explore and celebrate their Jewish faith and culture in a new and exciting way that most of us take for granted. We believe that this visit is a ‘first’ and will be a tremendous success and we hope that many more people will have the chance to take part in the future.”
Royi Gutkin, UJIA Birthright coordinator added: “At UJIA we believe that all young people should have the opportunity to visit and engage with Israel in an educational capacity, regardless of financial or physical constraints. The trip is the first trip of its kind from Europe and we hope it becomes a springboard for expansion in the future.”