Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett marked Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month with a visit to the Negev-based rehabilitative village of ADI, Israel’s largest network of facilities for children with severe physical and cognitive disabilities. During the tour, he expressed interest in developing programming that encourages children in middle and high school to volunteer with special-needs peers.
“Without a doubt, ADI Negev is the capital of Israel’s soul. Beyond the care that it provides for Israel’s severely disabled children, it is also a gift for all citizens of Israel in that it allows us as a nation to become better, more caring, and more sensitive individuals,” commented Bennett following the tour. “I want to see children in the seventh, eighth, and ninth grades and beyond volunteering with special-needs children in their communities and coming here to ADI Negev to discover how we can become a better society.”
Education Minister Bennett lamented having grown up in an educational system that did not expose him to peers with cognitive and physical disabilities, explaining that learning empathy becomes a daunting task later in life.
“ADI’s ability to create a bridge between hearts is a tremendous gift to the people of Israel, and I want everyone to enjoy this blessed gift. To accomplish this, we will promote a joint volunteering project with the Ministry of Education that will allow us to bridge the gap in Israeli society,” added Bennett.
“The test of our education system—really our whole country—is how we care for those who are powerless within our society, those who cannot fend for themselves. These special children are our treasure and must be treated as such.”