Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Are You Prepared? - Message from Yad HaChazakah The Jewish Disability Empowerment Center

In the aftermath of the violent tragedy that occurred in Monsey over the weekend -- Hashem should comfort -- important discussions continue in regard to how we, as individuals and as a community, must be prepared in the future to respond in the best possible way if faced with such a situation.

In this regard, as the religious adviser to Yad HaChazakah, I wish to share with you a letter from the Board Chair and Executive Director.of this organization that we must consider disabled individuals within our community in all such deliberations. Kol Yisrael areivin zeh l'zeh -- All of Israel is connected.

Dear Friend of Yad HaChazakah,
We hope that you and your loved ones have enjoyed a very happy Chanukah.  May the final day of Chanukah bring you and all of us light, comfort and peace.

Sadly, this year, Chanukah has been dampened by multiple attacks on the Jewish people, including the one in Monsey during a Chanukah melaveh malkah celebration. May the five who were injured have a refuah sheleimah b'karov (a complete recovery soon).  We also send words of comfort to the victims of the Texas West Freeway Church shooting and to the mourning families.

Events like these underscore the importance of emergency preparedness. In this past week’s Torah Parsha, Miketz, we see Yosef advising Pharaoh to prepare well for an expected famine in the coming years. In this case, Pharoah was advantaged by Yosef's Divine gift of dream interpretation. 

However, without this advantage, we need to continually prepare for unexpected events and natural disasters in addition to having bitachon (trust) in Gd. The challenge for us is how to do this, while including everyone, including people with disabilities. During an active shooting, for example, people with disabilities often cannot even do the first step in the RUN. HIDE. FIGHT. approach without assistance. So, we ask you to consider the following:
  • Are your kids’ schools doing “active shooter” drills?  If so, what is the plan for disabled students, faculty, and staff? 
  • Is your Shul thinking about security measures?  How will those using mobility devices safely evacuate? 
  • Is your workplace upgrading your disaster notification system?  Are alarms available in multiple media: visual, auditory, and tactile?
  • Some people have difficulty following instructions or are likely to get disoriented under stress. Are there people in your minyan, class, or workplace who are trained to assist those who may appreciate having an evacuation buddy?
Yad HaChazakah is here to help you to plan for human initiated or natural emergencies so that more precious lives can be spared. Contact us at 646-723-3955 or

May we prepare for the worst and receive only the best.

May we only know happiness, success, and light.

Sheryl Grossman, Board Chair
Sharon Shapiro-Lacks, Executive Director.
For more info on Yad HaChazakah, please see their website at
Rabbi Ben Hecht

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