“Run for Inclusion” Inspires Young American Jewish Leaders

By Rolene Marks


In the heart of Israel’s southern desert, an oasis of hope and care for people with severe disabilities rises from the rocky plains. Powered by Jewish National Fund-USA, the institution making it happen is ADI Negev-Nahalat Eran, named in memory of Eran Almog, the late son of Didi and Major General (Res.) Doron Almog, the current head of the Jewish Agency for Israel. Almog was motivated by his love for Eran, who was born with severe autism and intellectual disabilities. Today the village is a home and a family to more than 150 children and young adults with severe disabilities and complex medical conditions.


Set across 40 acres in the Negev desert, the village has created hundreds of local jobs and enables families living in the south to access world-class medical care. Meanwhile, patients can access equine therapy, support animals, a beautiful sensory garden, a green care farm, a petting zoo, and a school.


For people with multiple disabilities and complex medical conditions, there is an intensive care hospital wing for babies and adults, a para-medical center, and a hydrotherapy pool.


The village has inspired philanthropists from across the world to support its mission. Yet, it has also captured the attention of a new generation of Zionists keen to support its efforts. Recently, hundreds of enthusiastic students from throughout the United States descended on the village for the second annual Run for Inclusion.


JNF-USA's Run for Inclusion


Organized by Jewish National Fund-USA, the run formed part of the organization’s “Alternate Winter Break” experience, where young American Jews  (18-24 years old) spend a week making an impact by volunteering in Israel with children, the environment, people with special needs, and minority communities.


Decked out in vibrant green t-shirts, the participants were ready to run!


JNF-USA's Run for Inclusion


“I am so ecstatic to be here to support the Run for Inclusion,” said Columbia University student Eitan Turok. “To be in a place that is so welcoming and to be in a place that supports Zionism is something that touches my heart. These are Jewish values that are important to me.”  

Eitan is just one of the many eager students to express how inspired they were.


“This is my second Jewish National Fund USA trip, and I am so excited to be here and be a part of this family,” said University of Michigan student Atara Kresch. “It’s amazing to see all of us coming together to support Inclusion which is very special to my heart and gives us pride.”


“We have over 400 hundred students here, participating in “Alternative Winter Break,” explained ADI Negev’s Director of Development, Elie Klein. “There are students from campus programs, yeshivot, and other programs, from all streams of Judaism and all different backgrounds. We often talk about inclusion; and here, we constantly promote knowledge and understanding of what disability is. Many ask how they can get involved, but this event puts it into action. We want to ensure that these future Jewish leaders understand disability and inclusion, but have seen, felt, and lived it. Together with Jewish National Fund USA, we will continue to build amazing events like this.”


JNF-USA's Run for Inclusion


After the run, it was time to dance with the residents, and the joy on their faces was contagious! The Run for Inclusion looks set to be a regular date on the calendar and will inspire and educate many in the years to come.


To learn how you can support people with disabilities in Israel, visit jnf.org/disabilities

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