A life of Shlichus can often feel like a solitary one. Living far from friends, family and established frum communities is a hard enough task, and for shluchim raising children with special needs it can be monumental. If it takes a village to raise a typical child, imagine the difficulty of raising a child with special needs somewhere far from the supports and opportunities a regular community provides. It’s hard not to feel alone on that journey.
Thanks to Yaldei Shluchei HaRebbe, no shliach has to feel alone.
This summer, Yaldei hosted its 8th Regional Parent Respite Program, one of the initiatives offered by Yaldei Shluchei HaRebbe, a division of Merkos 302, supporting Shluchim raising children with special needs throughout the year.
West Coast Shluchim gathered in sunny San Diego for 3 days of educational seminars, recreational activities and time to bond with other shluchim raising children with special needs. The 20 couples spent their time learning, relaxing and expanding their support system amongst new friends.
The program was led and coordinated by Yaldei’s Program Director Sholly Weiser, Dovid Leib Shur and Gershon Sabol.
Yaldei brought down power duo, Rabbi Dr. and Mrs. Yosef and Chana Shagalow, shluchim to Minneapolis MN, to present on topics including healthy relationship dynamics and Shagalow, special education program director, opened the program with a fun and interactive session on balancing responsibilities between spouses and the significance of expressing gratitude.
Rabbi Dr Shagalow, a clinical psychologist who has produced a series of podcasts for Yaldei, focused on the importance of processing the realities of raising a child with special needs. In his session, parents learned about the stages of grief that follow the ambiguous loss of receiving a diagnosis. People process each stage at a different pace and may struggle with one more than another.
Spouse were encouraged to support each other through the journey and recognize that each of them will deal with loss and acceptance in different ways. The most important component of parenting a child with special needs is keeping open lines of communication between spouses and finding time to nurture the relationship between them and the rest of their family.
Rabbi Reuven Wolff taught a chassidus shuir on a maamer from the Tzemach Tzedek on the high source and closeness to Hashem of the neshamos of those who live with disabilities.
A special thank you to San Diego Shluchim, and their children who assisted with babysitting, for helping make this program possible. Yaldei is grateful to the many generous donors who continue to support these important programs.
Along with the seminars and workshops, the parents had a chance to kick back and relax. The women were treated to a night of pampering at the San Diego Hilton Spa while the men enjoyed a fun group activity.
After being wined and dined, the parents broke out into groups and shared their personal stories of struggle and triumph. The experience was refreshing and uplifting. Rabbi Korf’s closing remarks were mechazek the group. The parents left armed with renewed energy, new perspectives and strength to return home and continue their incredible community work.
One parent shared her feelings about the retreat:
“Dear Sholly and all the people who made this retreat happen,
I want to express the immense gratitude and appreciations both my husband and I have for all who helped make this retreat a reality for us. It was a perfect balance of rejuvenation, both b’gashmius and b’ruchnius.
From the spa treatments, welcome packages, delicious meals, and beautiful hotel surroundings to the magnificent evening cruise. We felt like we were being treated like royalty.
The sessions with the Shagalows were both insightful and educational. They validated and clarified many things for us, in a professional , yet chassidish and warm way . We took many lessons to apply practically in our home, making sure our entire family needs are met and giving ourselves time we need for self care.
The heartwarming conversations with fellow Shluchos were so refreshing and encouraging.
Rabbi Korf’s closing remarks hit the nail on the head with what we needed to hear to be m’chazek and leave with renewed energy to appreciate the special shlichus we have and be excited about it.
We would be so honored and excited to participate again. I don’t think I would change anything as far as the balance of lecture style sessions to discussional type to recreation/spa. It was a perfect balance.
Yasher koach for being such a big part of our shlichus. We feel empowered and strengthened to continue our holy work, knowing we are not in it alone and have a big bag full of new tips and techniques to enhance what we are doing to do it more effectively.
With thanks and respect,
I have to admit, in the weeks leading up to this, I questioned myself many times, “Is it really worth all the work it takes to get away??” Every time I bumped into walls finding the right help to cover all the shifts, from morning to night for 5 of our ka’h 7 children (2 of them were in overnight camp which made the timing fantastic for this.) Deep in my heart I knew we needed to make it happen, but it wasn’t easy, so the yetzer hora comes and says “forget about it, it’s too much work …”
I must tell you that from the moment we arrived it was clear this was the best decision. Thanks again for gifting us with the time, knowledge, inspiration and more to continue what we do!
For more information about our programs or to donate contact Yaldei at 646-558-5800 or visit us @ www.yaldei.com