Cooking With Inclusion

By Jay Ruderman

Recently Shira and I were watching MasterChef, one of the most popular TV shows in Israel, when we saw something that both surprised and delighted us. During this episode of the usually heated cooking competition, the contestants were led into a completely dark room escorted by blind woman who helped them experience what it’s like to select ingredients without the aid of sight.

This was the latest work of the innovative Nalaga’at group which is working each and every day to raise awareness of Israel’s 700,000 adults with disabilities. More than 200,000 people have visited the Nalaga’at Experience and Entertainment Center in Jaffa which is home to a vibrant theater – where all the actors are both deaf and blind. The café there is also staffed with deaf-blind wait-staff who often take the skills – and the confidence — they’ve gained here into food service jobs in restaurants around Israel.

By bringing this awareness of the challenges inherent in living with one (or more) disabilities to millions of MasterChef  fans, Nalaga’at has reminded us all that people with disabilities are truly people first.

The next time you’re in the Jaffa area, why not stop by to see and hear (and taste) what Nalaga’at is serving: a healthy portion of independence, self-sufficiency and pride.

— Jay Ruderman

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