The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC-Israel) announced this week that it will expand its Israel Unlimited project, which focuses on the planning and development of services for the advancement and integration of people with disabilities in the community, after an additional NIS 50 million was added to the program.

Israel Unlimited, which was established in 2009 with core funding of NIS 24m., consists of a partnership with the Ruderman Family Foundation and the government, specifically the Welfare and Social Service, Health and Finance ministries and the National Insurance Institute.

The project has developed services including independent living centers and community support programs, as well as health programs for different kinds of disabilities.

It also helps to ensure that people are making full use of the rights available to the disabled in Israel.

The NIS 50m. expansion of the partnership was made possible after the Ruderman Family Foundation decided to grant another NIS 15m. to it. The other partners soon followed suit and provided the remainder of the amount.

The decision came after a report by the Brookdale Institute released last month revealed that over a million adults with disabilities live in Israel and the growth rate of this population is three times higher than that of the rest of the population. In addition, most of the people with disabilities live independently in the community rather than in institutions.

“We want Israel to be a leader in terms of inclusion of people with disabilities in society,” said Jay Ruderman, the president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, in a statement.

“Our decision to advance this project is based on the success of our work in promoting people with disabilities as people with abilities,” he added.

JDC-Israel stated that the expansion of the partnership will enable the development of additional services for people with disabilities such as their advancement in the workforce and the integration of young people with disabilities in youth centers across the country.

Welfare and Social Services Minister Moshe Kahlon addressed the decision and said he applauds the partnership as it “promotes the status of people with disabilities and develops services to help them integrate into society.”

Avital Sandler-Loeff, the head of Israel Unlimited, said in a statement last month that “most of the resources invested today are institutional solutions, but there is a need to produce systems of independent housing in the community.”

“There needs to be a new generation of services for people with disabilities who want to be involved in society and contribute to it,” she continued.

“It is important that people with disabilities know that there are systems that can help them, such as supportive communities which work to advance their independence.”

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