If you are disabled or moving to Israel with a disabled family member, you want to know what to expect when you make aliyah. Under Israeli law, the State of Israel has an obligation to assure that people with disabilities are treated equally.
Government agencies that provided services for disabled people and their families include:
- Bituach Leumi (the National Insurance Institute): provides grants, rehabilitation services, and other services
- Misrad HaRevacha (the Ministry of Social Affairs):provides personal, social, financial and vocational services
- Misrad HaBriut (the Ministry of Health): deals with mental health issues
- Misrad HaKlita (the Ministry of Absorption): provides special rights and benefits to new olim
- The Guide to Services for the Disabled summarizes government services available for the disabled and their families. It’s available in print from aliyah offices and online.
If you are a parent of a disabled child, be sure to bring your child’s evaluations with you when you make aliyah. If you only suspect that your child may be disabled, it may be easier for you to arrange an evaluation before you move to Israel. In either case, have your child’s evaluations translated to Hebrew soon after you arrive in Israel and well before school starts.
Once you’ve made aliyah, a child under age five can be assessed by a developmental psychologist through your Kupat Holim (health plan). Older children are assessed through school psychology services. Parents may want to arrange for a private assessment to save time. Gan Safa (language kindergarden) is available for kids who are having difficulty getting up to speed with the language–very effective.
A placement board composed of professionals from the Ministry of Education and the local municipality determines whether a child needs to be in a special education program. School counselors can also arrange for special in-school accommodations, such as a lighter class schedule or the assistance of an aide. Often the aides are young women doing their national service.
The Nefesh b’Nefesh website provides a database of school options, including dozens of schools for children with a variety of special needs. Special education options are available for secular families and families across the religious spectrum.
Nefesh b’Nefesh also has an English-language database of summer camps, including some for disabled children. For example, Camp Shutaf in Jerusalem is a camp for children both with and without special needs.