Israel Elwyn Co-Hosts WCJCS Conference at Knesset

Israel Elwyn co-hosted a full-day session of the World Council of Jewish Communal Service (WCJCS) Quadrennial Conference on "Removing Barriers to Employment of People with Disabilities – Best Practices and Emerging Policies" on Monday, June 25 at the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.

Choosing the Knesset as the venue allowed lawmakers to participate in the WCJCS Conference session and enabled Conference participants to meet with Knesset workers with disabilities who demonstrate the Knesset's adoption of the principle of inclusion in employer-employee relations, identical to all the Knesset's employees.

Genie Cohen, Chief Executive Officer of the International Association of Jewish Vocational Services (IAJVS), of which Israel Elwyn is a member, greeted the group. IE's CEO, David Marcu led one of the sessions, and Professor Yossi Tamir, head of JDC-Tevet presented up-to-date information on public policy with regard to the employment of persons with disabilities.

The 40 participants, who came from seven countries, viewed a film made by the Knesset's Research and Information Center and heard remarks by Dr. Shirley Avrami, who heads the Center. Other speakers presented programs that have been successful in supporting people with disabilities in their efforts to join the working population and included Margalit Piller, IE's Assistant to the CEO for Employment, Gary Miller of Jewish Family & Career Services of Atlanta, Jay Spector of JEVS Human Services, Philadelphia, and Einat Masterman, Director – Programs for Youth and People with Special Needs of JDC-Tevet. Ilan Gilon, a member of the Knesset and Head of the Subcommittee on Equal Rights for Persons with Disabilities spoke on the need for inclusion of people with disabilities—physical, intellectual, etc., and the importance of accessibility, whether physical, cognitive or other. He also talked about the Knesset's role in advancing the subject throughout the country, pointing out that legislation would be superfluous if all people would act as "human beings."

Three of the Knesset's workers with disabilities also spoke to the participants, emphasizing that although the process of inclusion had at first been difficult, they now felt that they were truly accepted by everyone at the Knesset.

The session's participants also toured the Knesset, viewing the Plenary Chamber, the famous Chagall Hall, and the display of Israel’s Declaration of Independence.

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