Dr Judith Guedalia

Coming to Israel for the Year

Coming to Israel for the Year/Aliya with a ‘Special-needs' family member?

Chezi Goldberg z'l --H'YD- May Gd Avenge his blood- wrote about coming on Aliya with children and teens, I am sure, had he lived out his 120 years with us, he would have written about coming on Aliya with children, teens, and adults with special-needs.


As the director of Neuropsychology at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, and a senior developmental, medical and rehabilitation psychologist as well as the  co-chair of Nefesh Israel (organization of Orthodox Mental Health professionals), many parents and adults have contacted me about this subject.  The main question being: "Can we come to Israel with our family member who has ‘special-needs'?

My answer is always a resounding: "Yes".

Then we start figuring out how to make this year in Israel and/or Aliya work.  Ein Hadash Tachat HaShemesh.  In Israel we have all the ‘challenges' that exist elsewhere and then some.  The difference here is that our rehabilitation services, special education curriculum, medical and para-medical programs may not be as ‘defined' as in Canada or the States, or other countries for that matter.  Baruch Hashem we have many schools and organizations that work with special-needs populations, the trick is finding out where they are and the ‘vocabulary' needed to access this help.

To name a few there is Mercaz Harmony, Sulam, Shalva, Aleh, P'tach, Yad Sarah, to mention just a few in the more ‘Haredi or Hardal -Haredi LeUmi network-though they don't turn anyone not Haredi away!  Within the governmental school system there are special education schools, classes and teachers in both the Dati (kippa seruga) and Mamlachti (general) system.  These services reflect the religious and cultural ‘shades' of the communities they serve.  Today in the more Haredi areas of the country Jerusalem, Kiryat Sefer, Bnai Brak as well as many others, these units may have more Haredi professionals working in them, and if not, they are still very aware of the needs of the community.  This is a countrywide network and tremendous source of information for services and professionals around the country.  On the medical front there is the Tipat Chalav -child medical services from after birth till 5 years of age, the Mercaz LeHitpatchot HaYeled -child guidance clinics for children with developmental issues and Sherut HaPsychologi Chinuchi- Educational Psychology Service.  Psychiatric services are also available for all ages, and include special educational and residential facilities, as well as out-patient clinics.  As mentioned above these are countrywide services of assessment and therapy and special-needs placement available to all children from birth through high school.  Today there are many Talmudai Tora and Yeshivot that have programs for children with special-needs.   The universities offer special consideration for students, seeing and hearing impaired, physically disabled and those with dyslexia or other forms of learning disabilities, as does the army and Sherut LeUmi- National Volunteer Service.

I recommend doing some ‘homework' before, by email or even a visit, but don't cheat yourselves or your special-needs family member out of the ‘Chavaya' -experience- of living/being in Israel.

We are here for you, just come!! 

LeHitraot b'Karov

Tags: Aliya | Mercaz LeHitpatchot HaYeled | Neuropsychology | Sherut HaPsychologi Chinuch | Special Education Curriculum | Special-needs