Israel Elwyn’s 2019 Highlights

Israel Elwyn’s 2019 Highlights

Chef’s Assistant Course                                                                                 

A collaboration between Israel Elwyn (IE) and Ta’amim College led to four unique courses, training approximately 60 individuals with intellectual developmental disabilities to be chefs’ assistants. The objective of the training was to advance students’ integration into the competitive job market in the cooking and restaurant industries. The courses took place in four of IE’s branches – Haifa & Northern Israel, Sharon & Central Israel, Jerusalem & Southern Israel, and Elwyn El Quds (East Jerusalem) during 2019, and some are still operating in 2020. They were taught by the best of Ta’amim College’s chefs, who trained the participants to work in professional kitchens in hotels and restaurants as chefs’ assistants. The course was also made accessible to service recipients from the Arab sector, and for those with auditory disabilities, through translators into Arabic and sign language.

course participants

“The chef’s assistant course is a training course for people with disabilities who are interested in working in the competitive job market, in cooking professions,” says Margalit Piller, IE’s Chief Operating Officer (COO). “The program, Elwyn’s initiative in collaboration with Ta’amim College, provides training of professional skills in the field of cooking and baking, setting participants up to work in the competitive job market. Following the training, participants are eligible for a wide range of jobs in kitchens, ultimately improving their vocational skills and their salaries.” Course participants gained experience in cooking and baking, and became acquainted with the workforce. As part of the course, participants visited local hotels and restaurants. 23-year-old Yakir, a course participant, relates: “I’ve been working at Café Café for over a year. I’ve wanted to work in a kitchen for a long time. I watch all the cooking programs on television, and they give me the dream to cook. When I heard that there was this kind of course, I registered immediately. During the course, I learned many new things such as: how to cook many dishes, how to work in a kitchen with chefs, and how to manage my time. When I work in the restaurant, I see how much people enjoy the food prepared by the chefs, and I want to be like them. After my current practicum, I want to be a chef’s assistant, and to prove to everyone that I can also do it.”

22-year-old Noa, who participated in the course shared: “I work in a chain of coffee shops, and I like to cook tasty food. I always dreamed of working in a kitchen. I watch cooking programs on TV and dream about being a famous chef. I was very excited by the course, and I especially loved the chef’s accessible method of teaching, which helped me greatly in understanding and succeeding in what I did. When I was young, I always wanted to help my mother in the kitchen, it was really fun for me. Now that the course is over, I hope that I’ll be able to work in a big kitchen as a chef’s assistant, and perhaps, one day, to become a chef myself.”

Margalit Piller, IE’s COO: “As a society, we must make every effort to enable people with disabilities to realize themselves and their dreams. Participants are trained for work in cooking and baking, alongside job training to help them integrate into the job market. The training includes employee-employer relations, staff work, safety on the job, behavioral norms in the workplace and accepting authority, service orientation and external appearance, motivation and initiative, time management, and more. These lessons take place together with professional training and a practicum. At the end of the course, IE assists graduates in finding professional placements and integration into the workplace.” “The true test of Israeli society will be in real time,” Margalit adds, “in the number of workplaces that reach the understanding that people with disabilities also have professional abilities and that they are dedicated workers. As a society, it is our duty to give them an opportunity to be included in our employment frameworks, just like any other person.”

Adult Day Center Volunteering


“Israel Elwyn’s vision is to achieve a society in which people with disabilities are citizens with equal rights, a society in which each of us strives to determine his or her own future and lifestyle.”

This vision leads to the aspiration that people who require considerable support in their daily lives will also be an integral part of the community, and will volunteer and contribute to it. We have, therefore, created volunteer meetings at our Adult Day Center, enabling service recipients to leave the center and go out into the community, where they serve a variety of populations (children, the elderly, etc.). These opportunities offer a unique moment for IE service participants to trade places: from people who require help and support, to people who can help others. Additionally, through their volunteer work, people with disabilities are presented to the community on the basis of their strengths and not in terms of the support they require. During 2019, two such meetings took place, on Rosh Hashana and on Hanukkah, and additional ones are planned – at the community garden for Tu B’Shvat, and distributing mishloach manoton Purim. Reactions to the meetings were warm and complimentary.                                                                

In preparation for Rosh Hashana in 2019, service recipients in the Jerusalem Adult Day Center’s art groups prepared greeting cards for the new year, using a variety of printing techniques. Representatives of the center went to the “Beit Horim” home for the elderly in the Kiryat Menachem neighborhood in Jerusalem, and distributed the cards, to the elderly residents in the various departments.

“You brought us great joy,” “The cards that you gave us are beautiful and you are very nice,” “Thank you so much for thinking about us and coming to our home for the elderly.” These are just a few of the reactions from the residents of the facility.

“I’m glad that I went to distribute ‘Happy New Year’ cards. The residents were happy and thanked me. It made them feel good and I also felt good,” relates one of the center’s participants.

This Hanukkah, service recipients at the Jerusalem center chose to mark the holiday by volunteering at the Efrat preschool in the Gilo neighborhood. They prepared to volunteer in advance, making “Hanukkah gelt” gifts for the children – a package with dreidels (spinning tops), chocolate coins, and a card with a blessing. Representatives of the center facilitated an enjoyable sports activity for the preschool’s children, using hoops and parachutes. The children also prepared for the visit, discussing acceptance of people who are different.

                            Volunteering at the Efrat preschool in Jerusalem                                               Enjoying sports activity 

Efrat, the teacher, said, “The meeting was very good and also moving. The volunteers and the children were very sweet. The activity was so successful that another preschool teacher approached us, requesting that we come to volunteer at her preschool, and, of course, we were happy to oblige.”

Hanukkah with the Schneiders

During Hanukkah, residents of the Community Living Services lit candles together every evening. The residents chose to light candles in the traditional manner, to recite the holiday blessings and sing its songs, and, of course, to enjoy the holiday’s special foods.


Residents of the Carmit 7 apartment were invited to a particularly festive and moving candle lighting, at the home of the neighbors, the Schneider family – Omri, Moran and their children – with whom they have developed neighborly relations and friendships during the past two years. Together, they lit candles, sang Hanukkah songs, and were treated to holiday foods prepared especially for them!

The residents were excited to celebrate the holiday with the Schneider family. This deepened their familiarity and connection with their neighbors, and they decided to invite the Schneider’s to celebrate with them at their apartment, at the next opportunity.

Moshe, a resident who participated in the candle lighting said:

“They welcomed us nicely, bought jelly donuts for everyone, we lit and blessed the candles, and prayed. They are very nice people, Omri and Moran and their children, and their dog, they laughed and sang with us. It made us incredibly happy.”

Click here to watch a clip of the candle lighting

The Zero Project Prize for “Creating a Future”

The Israel Elwyn family is excited to announce that the nationwide IE program, “Creating a Future” program, will receive the prestigious “Zero Project Prize.”  This important and significant prize will be presented officially at a widely attended ceremony at the United Nations in Vienna, Austria, in February 2020.The Zero Project, an initiative of the Essl Foundation, focuses on the rights of persons with disabilities globally, providing a platform for sharing the most innovative and effective solutions to problems that they face. Its sole objective is to assist in creating a world without barriers, based on the Articles of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The “Creating a Future” program is a transitional program for young people between the ages of 16-21, which was developed to provide employment and on-the-job life skills, along with an educational experience.  The program is operated by IE, in partnership with the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Service; and various municipal social service departments.  

                                                                                                             Working at a hotel                                    

The program began as a pilot in 1996, serving 60 students in five Jerusalem schools. In 2009, once the program was adopted by the government, IE served 100 students in ten schools throughout Israel; during the 2018-2019 school year, IE served 1,500 high school students in 129 schools throughout the country, in 96% of Israel’s local authorities and municipalities (!). About 250 students complete the program annually; 85% of program graduates have indicated that, after graduating from the educational system, they would like to continue on to inclusive programs in higher education, national service, or military service, or work in the competitive job market.

Acquiring on-the-job skills Working at a coffee shop




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