“Freedom to choose the life that works not just for the system, but for you”

The Jewish Advocate has a fascinating piece (subscription required) on a topic that gets little public attention: the challenges facing the disabled in Israel, where they have limited support and assistance in comparison to their US counterparts.

Bound to his wheelchair his whole life, Yoav Kraiem is a disabilities rights activist in Israel, and has looked to America as a model for which to strive. In that spirit he has led a team of Israelis around the Northeast to give them a glimpse into the lives of the disabled in the United States.

“Americans are an inspiration to us,” said Kraiem last week at the tail end of their whirlwind tour of rehabilitation centers, independent living centers and day treatment programs. “Case managers, transportation, a wide range of housing, you seem to have it all.”

Mostly, he said, Americans seem to have independence. “The biggest part of rehab is the freedom to choose the life that works not just for the system, but for you,” said Kraiem. “In America, you have so much variety, and that means so much choice. In Israel, right now we have a beginning.”

His project is supported by Israel Unlimited, a partnership between the State of Israel, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, and the Ruderman Family Foundation, whose goal is to improve the quality of life for Israelis with disabilities, and help them become fully active members of society.

The Advocate piece is a terrific glimpse at the difficulties Kraiem and others face every day, as well as the great work he and Israel Unlimited are doing to ease their burden.

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