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Sandro Rosell
FC Barcelona President
Sunday, September 24, 2017

Shalva, the Israel Association for the Care and Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities was privileged to host a group of some 60 people from the Yeshiva of Flatbush, under the tutelage of Rabbi Naftali Besser.  The group, many of whom were familiar with Shalva from before, were left speechless by their tour of the new state of the art Shalva National Center.  Shalva, is dedicated to providing transformative care for individuals with disabilities, empowering their families and promoting social inclusion. 

One of the highlights of their visit was when the group stopped for a dance with all of the children from the afternoon program and for 30 minutes everyone was having a blast!  Joining the group was Kalman Samuels, Founder and President of Shalva, who gave a personal perspective on Shalva's raison-d'etre.  

Shalva was founded in 1990 by Kalman and Malki Samuels, but its origins go back 13 years earlier to when their 11 month old son, Yossi was injured by a faulty DPT vaccination, rendering him blind, deaf, and acutely hyperactive. They never dreamed that seven years later Yossi would break through his barriers of darkness and silence, and miraculously learn to communicate via sign language and speech. Malki remembered a promise she made during those isolating and exhausting years; that if God would help, so would she. What began with six children in a small apartment, is today an internationally acclaimed organization that provides all-encompassing care for children and families from the entire spectrum of Israeli society.

Towards the end of their visit, the group had an unexpected treat when they met Yossi Samuels as well.  Yossi, now 40, continues to push boundaries.  He has traveled the world, was hosted by President Bush in the White House, and maintains close friendships with his countless visitors from over the years. Yossi personifies ambition and his life is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.

Non-denominational and free of charge, Shalva provides an all-encompassing range of services for thousands of individuals from infancy to adulthood, as well as their families.  Shalva enables families to raise their children with disabilities within the family framework, empowering these children to become contributing members of society.  

In a related development, Shalva’s web site has indicated that Café Shalva is officially open to the public and invites visitors to enjoy a rich selection of pastries, shakes, quality coffee and a step into a more inclusive world. How? The staff of Café Shalva, waiters as well as chefs, is comprised of seasoned restaurateurs working hand-in-hand with individuals with disabilities, graduates of Shalva’s programs.

A branch of the esteemed Derech HaGefen restaurant in Beit Zayit, the establishment’s management partnered with Shalva in devising a two-pronged vocational curriculum. The first facet prepares individuals with disabilities to enter the workforce with proper vocational training, and the second facet educates employees from the broader community about how to successfully work side-by-side with their coworkers with disabilities.

The Café’s very first employee with disabilities, Yair, is a waiter who always serves his restaurant clients with utmost enthusiasm. Aside from his efficient service, Yair’s smile is a bonus that has earned him quite a bit of tips. We’re big fans of Yair, and he’s become a spokesperson for Shalva’s unique message of inclusion: He serves as a star percussionist and solo rapper in the Shalva band. He even was even one of only two participants selected to represent the band on their maiden voyage abroad, performing in New York City in 2015.

The café is one of several meaningful vocational opportunities now available to our graduates on Shalva’s own campus.

This places the Café as a, positively speaking, self-fulfilling prophecy of Shalva’s own agenda. The youngest participants of Shalva’s program enter just months after birth and are guided through a continuum of programs intended to help them arrive at adulthood complete with independent living and a job with commensurate pay. This vision was brought to fruition in partnership with the Mayberg Family Charitable Foundation. Café Shalva is one of several self-determination inclusive work settings at the National Center.


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