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Ohr Torah Stone Gap-Year Program Will Participate at Frisch Israel Night

By JLNJ Staff | November 14, 2019

With gap-year program recruitment season launching in just a few short weeks, Ohr Torah Stone’s (OTS) Elaine and Norm Brodsky Darkaynu Programs, which provide dynamic Israel study programs for students with special needs, for the first time will be participating in the annual “New Jersey Israel Night” event set to take place at Yeshivat Frisch in Paramus, on the evening of November 19.

OTS is dedicated to making Jewish experiences and learning accessible to all Jews. The Darkaynu program specifically provides individuals with specials needs with the religious rite-of-passage of the gap-year program in Israel. By participating in Israel Night the program aims to ensure that inclusionary programs and students with special needs are seen as a natural part of the year-in-Israel discussion.

OTS’ Darkaynu was initially launched in 2003 with the establishment of Midreshet Darkaynu on the OTS Midreshet Lindenbaum campus in Yerushalayim. Two years later it opened the doors to a parallel program for men, Yeshivat Darkaynu, located on the Yeshivat Har Etzion campus in Alon Shvut.

Both Darkaynu programs cater to the unique needs of a diverse group of students who represent a range of abilities and diagnosed disabilities. Darkaynu also accommodates students with physical challenges.

Students enjoy the same types of classes, trips and paired chavruta learning that their peers and siblings do in mainstream gap-year programs. They volunteer through weekly chesed outings, spend time in daily vocational trainings, and develop lifelong friendships.

“The year-in-Israel experience should be accessible to everyone, and we are proud that the ‘New Jersey Israel Night’ will showcase options for all our children, including those with special needs,” said OTS President and Rosh HaYeshiva Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Brander. “It is our responsibility as Jews and as a society to make sure that people of all abilities are included and feel welcome in mainstream settings, and that is the motivation behind the Brodsky Darkaynu program.”

“It’s important that an inclusive option be visible on the gap-year landscape, so as to encourage students with special needs to also be present and visible on the gap-year landscape,” said OTS Yeshivat Darkaynu Director Avi Ganz. “Everyone should be encouraged to consider a year in Israel, regardless of ability.”

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