OU launches program for Jewish people with special needs

The program, REACH, will provide resources tailored to the individual needs of members of the New York Jewish community with developmental, intellectual and learning disabilities and their families.

Calls to a mental health hotline in Israel doubled during the recent crisis, with many callers expressing anxiety about conditions within Israel. (photo credit: GETTY IMAGES/JTA)
Calls to a mental health hotline in Israel doubled during the recent crisis, with many callers expressing anxiety about conditions within Israel.
(photo credit: GETTY IMAGES/JTA)

The Orthodox Union's (OU) organization for Jewish people with disabilities, Yachad, announced the launch of REACH, a referral service for people with disabilities and their families. The program aims to provide resources and support to members of the Jewish community in New York and hopes to eventually serve people across the United States.

REACH will provide resources tailored to the individual needs of people with developmental, intellectual and learning disabilities and their families, including government programs, recreational activities, therapy, special education and legal services.

“Our community has long been in need of an extensive referral network for individuals with disabilities and their families. The efforts of the Yachad team will represent a significant and invaluable contribution in addressing that need,” the president of OU, Moishe Bane, said.

Once a week, Yachad kids participate in English-language basketball training as part of a joint program with Hapoel Jerusalem. (credit: OU ISRAEL)Once a week, Yachad kids participate in English-language basketball training as part of a joint program with Hapoel Jerusalem. (credit: OU ISRAEL)

REACH runs a phone-based database for community resources for people with disabilities. The hotline is operated by Yachad employees who enter information that the caller provides into the database and then contact the caller with suggestions for relevant resources based on the data.

“In the past, families of those with disabilities had to rely on reaching out to second-and third-degree connections only to learn that the referral wasn’t related to their immediate need. Our hope in creating one centralized system is to be able to give the most accurate referral based on the caller’s specific disabilities, needs, and circumstances,” said Avrohom Adler, Yachad's international director.

The REACH hotline is free to use and can be contacted by phone at 1-877-Reach-52 (732-2452).

Providers interested in adding their services to the database can email [email protected].