At a Yachad Shabbaton, each Yachad member is matched up with a volunteer advisor. The Yachad participants and advisors are hosted in homes within the community or college campus. The Yachad members participate in the tefilla (prayer) service with the shul by receiving aliyot and giving dvrei torah in front of the shul. This gives them the oppurtunity to participate in religious ceremonies with the community members.
Shabbat meals are eaten together as a community so that yachad members and community members can socialize and meet each other. Shabbat meals are filled with ruach (spirit) singing, dancing and Yachad traditions that encourage inclusion and practice social skills.In some communities, a shabbat meal is hosted in individual community members homes, this allows the Yachad members and the hosts a more intimate setting to get to know one another. This also allows for community hosts with young children to participate with the Yachad shabbaton.
Some Shabbatons are held on College campuses, such as Columbia University and Yeshiva University, which allow the Yachad members to experience what campus like is life from taking tours of the campus, to hanging out in Hillel Center, to staying in the dorms. The communities have a unique opportunity to get to know many of the Yachad members and to get to know their abilities. Many community members are often surprised by how impacted they are by the weekend shabbaton experience and how many of there preconceived notions about individuals with disabilities have changed once they have gotten to know the Yachad members on an individual level.
Inclusion is an important part of a Yachad shabbaton. Each Shabbaton begins with an ice breaker that the community members, advisors and Yachad members participate in together. The Ice Breaker provides a structured way to promote social skills and to encourage everyone to participate throughout the entire weekend. The tables at the meals are always made up of a mix of Yachad members, staff, and community members. Yachad advisors are trained to facilitate conversation and to encourage the Yachad members to socialize.
Each Shabbaton has a scheduled learning program where yachad members, community members and advisors learn about the Torah portion together in small groups. Each group is given a Learning packet that is written and created by experienced Yachad staff that is made to be interesting and appropriate for all different levels of learning.
The Yachad shabbaton culminates with a Saturday night activity that allows Yachad members to engage in age-appropriate activities some of which include magicians, concerts, casino night, luau, a Yom Hashoa Candle lighting ceremony, and Karaoke.
For more information on joining or hosting a Yachad Shabbaton in the New York/Northern New Jersey area, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For Shabbaton programs outside the New York/New Jersey area please email email@example.com