July 2022

Knesset Passes Key Law for People With Disabilities 
A ground-breaking bill that will improve the lives of people with disabilities passed unanimously last week in the Knesset, just prior to the installment of the new interim Government.  After the proposal passed first reading, debates took place in the Welfare Committee leading to necessary amendments - a process that usually takes many weeks. Due to the decision to dissolve the Knesset, the Ministry of Welfare, headed by Minister Meir Cohen, made feverish efforts to hasten the process and have the bill passed within a few days.   
Main features of legislation that will focus on moving people from institutional to community living:
  • As a first, the law affirms the rights of people with disabilities at all levels including those with severe disabilities and entitles them to live in the community.
  • The tailoring of services (personal plan) will be based on input from the person her/himself and according to her/his desires and not according to an outside party.
  • The law anchors the principle of "budget follows the person" -  the monetary support will be allocated to the person who will choose how best to utilize it to access services.
  • This legislation is accompanied by a significant budget allocation of 2.2 billion NIS (680 million dollars), with a stipulation that the majority of the funds will be directed to advancing inclusion in the community.
  • Each year the Knesset Welfare Committee is required to evaluate progress made by the Ministry in ensuring the transition from institutional to community living.  
This significant legislation is accompanied by an emphasis on the importance of upholding human dignity, liberty and personal autonomy. 
Throughout the process, Ministry representatives met with the leadership of organizations that support people with disabilities, in order to ensure that the legislation addresses the most critical needs. According to AKIM CEO Sigal Peretz Yahalomi: "We see the law as a historic opportunity to anchor the rights of people with disabilities and help them move out of institutions and into community living. From now on, the key consideration will be the desires and needs of the people themselves. We thank the dedicated staff of the Ministry of Welfare and Social Security- Minister Meir Cohen, Director General Sigal Moran, Chairman of the Knesset Welfare Committee MK Efrat Rayten Marom, along with Knesset members of all factions who supported the law. AKIM also appreciates the close collaboration with other organizations in making this historic legislation a reality. Getting the bill passed in the Knesset despite the political upheaval is a major accomplishment." 
AKIM is proud to have played a major role in helping shape this legislation. 
Photo on RHS: From right to left, from ILAN Dikla Sity-Meir and CEO Boaz Herman, from AKIM Irit Gazit & CEO Sigal Peretz Yahalomi, from ALUT CEO David Atas and Michael Zetz
AKIM's General Assembly 2022
The annual general assembly recently took place with the participation of Chairman Rabbi Dr. Benny Lau, CEO Sigal Peretz Yahalomi, chairpersons and volunteers from branches across the country, parent committee representatives, professional staff, self-advocates, and family members. The general meeting, themed as 'creativity without limits', was held at the ACUM performing arts center at the Tel Aviv port.
On the deck facing the sea, the impressive art exhibition "Colors in Honor of a City" was on display with beautiful paintings of Jerusalem by AKIM artists, recently exhibited in the Knesset. As part of the program, members of AKIM's ensemble "Keilim Shluvim" (in collaboration with Bar Ilan University), performed two uplifting songs - Matti Caspi's "How Dares the Star" (Eich Ze Sh'Kochav), which was accompanied by video greeting from the legendary Israeli singer-songwriter, followed by a moving version of "Lu Yehi" together with Israeli opera singers (to watch the performance click here).
Also at the event: Sigal Moran, Director General of the Ministry of Welfare and Social Affairs, spoke about the extensive efforts being made to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities by advancing inclusion and moving to community living, investing in smaller housing options, and by improving supervision. She thanked AKIM for productive cooperation in shaping the new Welfare Services bill. At the end of the program, CEO Sigal Peretz Yahalomi presented an overview of AKIM's activities during the past year, and certificates were awarded to four outstanding volunteers. [details below]
  Outstanding Volunteers - 2022
Yaffa Hedvat - Ra'anana
Yaffa has been serving as an active volunteer for over a decade at the AKIM Raanana branch. She leads the therapeutic garden project at the Employment Center and at Beit Halomi Community Living. Yaffa also coordinates the volunteers and organizes wonderful outings for residents and their families.
(Right to left: Rabbi Benny Lau, Yaffa Hedvat, Sigal Peretz Yahalomi, Dorit Amidror)
Avraham Davidson - Netanya 
Avraham volunteers on the National Parents’ Committee on Housing and on the board of AKIM Guardianship. In addition, he takes an active role in guiding the AKIM Netanya branch. He is also a constant source of support to his sister Freeda, who he helped make the transition from institutional to community living. 
(Galit Brami, Sigal Peretz Yahalomi, Avraham Davidson, Edna Alter-Dumbo, Boaz Sofer, Rabbi Benny Lau)
 Rina Sarhan - Maghar 
The branch's chairman, Diana Salah, summed up in one sentence the essence of Rina's work: "Rina is the heart and soul of the Maghar branch". Maghar has a mixed population of Muslims, Christians, and Druze in Israel's Northern District. The Maghar branch was established in 1983 and has grown steadily with a cadre of 20 volunteers.
(Diana Salah, Sigal Peretz Yahalomi, Rina Sarhan, Rabbi Benny Lau)
Yehudit Yehuda - Ramla
Yehudit has been a devoted volunteer at the AKIM Ramla-Be'er Yaakov branch for many years. She is part of a dedicated group of volunteers who work day and night for people with disabilities in the region. Everyone involved with the branch admire her and marvel at her endless ability to give.
(Edna Moore, Sigal Peretz Yahalomi, Yehudit Yehuda, Rabbi Bnei Lau, Benny Farjun)
Unity Day in the North
A special event took place earlier this month to officially kick off the summer on Israel's National Day of Unity. The day, which began as an initiative to commemorate the memory of three teenagers who were kidnapped and slain by terrorists in 2014, has evolved into emphasizing the value of unity and mutual responsibility.  Representatives from AKIM branches in the north and members of housing and leisure frameworks came together in Gan-Ner just south of Afula. Jews Arabs and Druze, children and adults enjoyed a leisurely day in the pool and were entertained by a special drumming session with Goren Roditi and a dance party with DJ Baruch.
Everyone loved the presentation by members of the AKIM Kafr Yasif - Abu Snan Center. Participants took part in two discussion circles directed by AKIM Nazareth Chairman Karim Yizbak and I'billin Chairman Rafka Salam. Those in attendance included Arab Region Chairman Yusef Rashad, AKIM deputy chairman Gali Brami, COO Noa Ben Zvi, Director of Advocacy Geri David and his staff, and Ora Habib, Director of Employment & Leisure, Northern District.
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AKIM's Mission:
To make Israeli society a better place for people with intellectual disabilities and their families: inclusive and respectful, facilitating self-actualization by providing equal opportunity while acknowledging the importance of diversity.
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