BOTH personally and professionally, as an occupational therapist, I became impassioned as soon as Judith Edelman-Green shared her idea of creating a residential and work village for young adults with mild to moderate special needs. Judith's motivation for creating Kfar Rimon came from listening to the greatest worry of parents: “What will become of my child when I am too old to care for him or her?” With the moral support of individuals who believe in the cause and hopeful parents of potential future residents, Judith, a Jewish educator and rabbinical student at the Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem proceeded to develop the idea of an environmentally sound and warm home for these young adults. Word got out about the project and initial funding for the basics began to trickle in. In June 2006, a nonprofit organization was formed. Board members met with Kfar Saba Mayor Yehuda Ben Hamo, who pledged his support and promised to provide city land for the village-to-be. Bentzi, a teenager with special needs, blessed those present in sign language. That fall a request for land to the land commission and the city architect was submitted. The Mayor and the city architect took board members to visit two possible sites. Parents interested in the village met with the Kfar Rimon board. They do and will have much input into what kind of home Kfar Rimon will be. David Agam, one of the parents, was elected chairperson. Last February the city of Kfar Saba granted Kfar Rimon 7.5 dunams of land. Seventy parents signed a list of those interested in their children living in the village. They were drawn by the fact that it will offer meaning, respect for all people, community and tradition to secular, traditional and religious Israelis alike. Every parents’ meeting begins with a blessing and a short Torah study... even when they meet to sign forms. Parents speak about their fears for their young adults and the fear of separation from them. A fundraising/community-raising event attended by 120 people, was held in July featuring deaf story tellers called “To Hear a Story.” Parents helped with the publicity, food and organization. The evening began with a havdalah service in sign language. It was enlightening to both hearing and deaf guests. This September the parents, filled with excitement, stood on the land of Kfar Rimon for the first time. Bentzi, who had blessed board members at their very first meeting just over a year earlier, wrote a blessing for the land and for the village. So many people have been helpful in a myriad of ways, and more are needed and welcome.
From a Mother’s Point of View
Parents of a child with special needs don’t sleep well at night. One thought keeps all of us awake: what will become of our loved one when we are no longer here? His or her home as he or she knows it, will no longer be. Brothers and sisters, if they exist, will go their separate ways, each to his own affairs, his own family. They cannot be expected to give up their own lives. Their involvement, therefore, will be limited. Housing and occupational solutions do exist, but for my son I would like the closest thing to the warm and embracing world in which he grew up, as every parent would wish for his or her child. I would like my son to have a full, vibrant life, with the degree of independence he can achieve, with meaning and joy. I would like him to live in a warm, supporting community. I see in my mind’s eye a village where the residents live in small houses in relative independence. They get up each morning with a song on their lips. They make breakfast, tidy up their rooms, go to work at a job that gives them pride and satisfaction - a job suited to their personal abilities, a job that offers learning, development and even advancement. I see them coming back from work and going to enrichment classes: music, arts, sports, even studies - the mind can develop throughout life, and past skills deteriorate when not used. I see them finishing the day with a sporting, social or cultural activity - taking a walk around the neighborhood, working out in the gym or gathering with others at the social club, maybe going out to a movie, a concert or a show. I see my son going to sleep with a smile on his face. Then I could permanently close my own eyes with my mind at ease when the time comes.
A mother of a child with special needs