Students from Kulanu Academy visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem.


New York, NY—April 9, 2018: Jewish National Fund-USA (JNF-USA) and the Kulanu Academy today announced a partnership in support of  Kulanu Ba’aretz, a joint three month vocational-educational study program in Israel for young men and women with special needs ages 17-22.

Jewish National Fund is well known for its work benefitting individuals with special needs and disabilities. This new partnership with Kulanu on the academic front, allows it to expand its services and offer this special opportunity to 20 students annually for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 academic years.

The program, based in northern Israel at Kibbutz Shluchot in the foothills of the Gilboa Mountains in the Bet Shean Valley, is geared towards individuals who want to spend an unforgettable semester living, working, studying, growing and touring is Israel.  The study program provides a unique opportunity for individuals with special needs to develop new skills, build self-esteem and independence, make new friends, and grow in a physically and emotionally safe environment. Students are engaged socially, emotionally, and physically, and often in ways they would not have at home while experiencing the spirit and culture of Israel.

The program is the brainchild of Kulanu’s executive director, Dr. Beth Raskin, who believes that every individual should be able to participate in an Israel program similar to their peers and siblings. “After 10 years of operating the Kulanu Ba’aretz program, we are excited to expand its growth via our partnership with Jewish National Fund,” said Raskin.  “Our program provides the opportunity for participants to acquire skills and levels of independence that they could not normally attain in their home environments."


Yossi Kahana, Director of Jewish National Fund’s Task Force on Disabilities, said: “This new partnership is part of JNF’s focus on improving the quality of life in Israel for all its citizens, ensuring that no member of Israeli society is left behind. Now people with disabilities have the opportunity to explore Israel and return home with a heightened sense of purpose, a deeper connection to the land and the people of Israel.”


David Berglas, a 2014 graduate of Kulanu Ba’aretz who found the experience life-changing remarked, “Being in Israel on my own helped me prove to myself that I can accomplish anything that I want to do. Living in Israel helped prepare me to become independent in many ways, a lot of which I have implemented since being home. And, the kibbutz environment opened the door for me to meet many new people as well as make long-term friends.”


Kulanu Ba’aretz was inaugurated in October 2007 and offers five components in its experiential curriculum:


  1. Vocational—participants join as members of the kibbutz and engage in the following vocational placements: cooking, dining room, laundry, animal care in the children’s zoo, kibbutz store, agricultural work, and maintaining the landscaping throughout the kibbutz. Daily work schedules are individualized, providing flexibility to accommodate the touring component.
  2. Course work— self advocacy and determination, social skills training, money management, functional reading, personal hygiene, and learning basic Hebrew.
  3. Touring—a minimum of 20 days traveling throughout Israel. Jewish National Fund will make available partner sites including Special in Uniform, Red Mountain Therapeutic Riding Center, LOTEM-Making Nature Accessible, Hashomer HaChadash, and others. Interactive learning and coursework offered at vocational sites where possible.
  4. Extra-curricular activities—students participate in daily classes in the arts and crafts, sports, dance, cooking and night activity programming. Kulanu Ba’aretz participants join with kibbutz high school students for activities and other social events, and participants enjoy Shabbat hospitality at the homes of kibbutz members.
  5. Evening activities—a variety of sports, arts and crafts, horseback riding, woodworking, swimming, and other activities are offered.


For more information, visit https://kulanukids.org/kulanu-baaretz, or call (516) 569-3083 ext.150. Visit the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/KulanuBaaretz/.

JEWISH NATIONAL FUND (JNF) began in 1901 as a dream and vision to reestablish a homeland in Israel for Jewish people everywhere. Jews the world over collected coins in iconic JNF Blue Boxes, purchasing land and planting trees until ultimately, their dream of a Jewish homeland was a reality. Today, JNF continues to give all generations a unique voice in building and ensuring the prosperity of the land of Israel through their generosity and partnership with the people of Israel.

JNF embodies both heart and action; our work is varied in scope but singular in benefit. We strive to bring an enhanced quality of life to all of Israel’s residents, and translate these advancements to the world beyond. JNF is greening the desert with millions of trees, building thousands of parks, creating new communities and cities for generations of Israelis to call home, bolstering Israel’s water supply, helping develop innovative arid-agriculture techniques, and educating both young and old about the founding and importance of Israel and Zionism.

JNF expanded its education operations to include Alexander Muss High School in Israel (AMHSI-JNF). Since 1972, AMHSI-JNF has provided a unique, accredited, semester study abroad program for high school students where the land of Israel becomes a living classroom, demonstrating 4,000+ years of Jewish and Israeli history. Our semester, mini-mester, and summer programs help teens from the US and around the globe develop skills and tools that boost their college applications and prepare them for college and beyond.  JNF is a registered 501(c)(3) organization and United Nations NGO, which continuously earns top ratings from charity overseers. For more information on JNF, call 800.JNF.0099 or visit JNF.ORG.

KULANU, Hebrew for “All of Us,” provides a wide range of educational, social and advocacy services for individuals with special needs and their families in an inclusive environment.  At its inception in 2000, a group of mothers created a “wish list” of activities that would enable their children with special needs to be included in all aspects of communal life. The Kulanu Center for Special Services in Cedarhurst provides the community with a complex and comprehensive system of services 365 days a year.  Kulanu has developed a reputation for providing programs and services of excellence.  

The Kulanu Academy school program caters to students with special needs ages 11-21.  Its programs incorporate academic, social and vocational opportunities throughout the school day. Kulanu supplements with an array of related services and therapies including counseling, speech, occupational, physical, and art therapies.