Israel Elwyn

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Israel Elwyn
Founded1984; 40 years ago (1984)
  • Jerusalem
Area served
  • Education
  • Self-advocacy
  • Community services for the intellectually
  • Developmentally disabled
Key people
  • Alan Cohn (chairperson)
  • David B. Marcu (CEO)

Israel Elwyn (IE) is an Israeli nonprofit organization that provides services and programs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It serves over 5,100 people with disabilities from all age groups.[1]

Mission statement

Israel Elwyn believes that all people are capable of self-advocacy and contribution to the community. It seeks to create a society in which people with disabilities have equal rights and can determine their own future and way of life. The goal of Israel Elwyn’s programs is to provide children and adults with disabilities with the tools needed to lead more independent lives within the community.[2]


Israel Elwyn was established in 1984. Over the years, it has cooperated with the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health, the National Insurance Institute (Bituach Leumi) and local municipalities. It began as an offshoot of the American nonprofit Elwyn Inc., founded in 1852 and named for Alfred L. Elwyn.[3]It was the first Elwyn affiliate outside the United States. [4] The main offices of Israel Elwyn are located in Jerusalem. [5]

Israel Elwyn inaugurated its first Supported Employment program for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities in 1987. In 1989, a program was established for individuals referred to by the Rehabilitation Department of Bituah Leumi.[6]

In 1992, Community Living apartments were opened in Jerusalem, with the program later expanding to central Israel. By securing long-term leases on apartments, accommodations are made for people with disabilities to live within the general community.[7] alt=Participant in the Job Placement Program, operated by Israel Elwyn Participant in Israel Elwyn’s Job Placement Program A transitional program for high school students, “18+,” was established in 1996 to prepare young people with disabilities for entering the work force. Israel Elwyn began working with the Aroma Espresso Bar chain that year when a worker with disabilities was hired by the Hillel Street branch in Jerusalem. Since then, the percentage of workers with disabilities at Aroma is one of the highest in the Israeli job market.[8]

A program for retirees with disabilities at the Sabbah Center in Jerusalem in 2001 became a springboard for the Weinberg Retiree Center in Jerusalem’s Kiryat Hayovel neighborhood. The center was established to meet the needs of formerly employed seniors with intellectual and other disabilities. The center runs a varied program of social and cultural activities, as well as a coffee shop that is also open to the public. [9]This center is one of many services for aging individuals with disabilities established in Jerusalem and other Israeli cities.

In 2007, Israel Elwyn inaugurated a sensory garden on its Jerusalem campus. The Katie Manson garden, suitable for all ages, encourages sensory stimulation and activities through the use of specially designed equipment. The garden is composed of four sections, each dedicated to a different sense: touch, sight, hearing, and taste/scent. It was developed by the IDBruno-Industrial Design studio,[10]The project was a joint effort with the Manson family of Manchester, UK, the Jerusalem Foundation and others. [11]

In 2009, Israel Elwyn launched a project now called “Creating a Future” to prepare disabled students aged 16-21 for adulthood. The youngsters are provided with the tools, skills and experience for inclusion in the competitive job market. Some 1,500 young people with disabilities took part in the program in 2018-2019. The program, developed by Dr. Shelly Nordhaim and Dr. Mina Raz, is run by Israel Elwyn under contract with the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services and local municipalities.[12] In 2020, the program was awarded the Zero Project prize at a ceremony at the United Nations building in Vienna, Austria. [13] alt=Members of Israel Elwyn’s Self-Advocacy group Israel Elwyn’s Self-Advocacy group In 2011, Israel Elwyn established a Self-Advocacy program together with Beit Issie Shapiro. The program provides people with intellectual and developmental disabilities with the tools needed to make their voices heard and advance their rights.[14] The program was originally funded by the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and the Ruderman Family Foundation, and more recently by the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County. Self-advocacy groups have since been formed all over the country. Each group appoints leaders and a recording secretary, and discussions are held on issues that affect individuals with disabilities in their daily lives: employment, how they are treated by those around them, accessibility of services and areas where change is needed. [15] alt=Israel Elwyn’s Early Intervention Center Israel Elwyn’s Early Intervention Center In 2014, the Mosaic – National Service for All program was established as an umbrella association for the inclusion of people with disabilities in Israel’s National Service program, Sherut Leumi. The Reshet program prepares teenagers with disabilities in the regular education system for independence through service in the Israel Defense Forces, Sherut Leumi and/or continuing education.[16]

In 2019, Israel Elwyn’s “Volunteering for a Change” pilot program promoting volunteerism among teenagers with disabilities was awarded the Zero Project entrepreneurial prize. The ceremony was held at the UN building in Vienna, Austria.[17]Volunteering for a Change is a partnership between Israel Elwyn, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services, and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in Israel. [18]

Programs and conferences

alt=Residents from Israel Elwyn’s Community Living Program Israel Elwyn’s Community Living Program Israel Elwyn operates early intervention centers; extended school day programs in kindergartens and special education schools; transitional programs for teenagers and young adults; support programs for young adults who volunteer for Sherut Leumi; training and employment in the competitive job market; adult day centers; retiree programs; supported living services; self-advocacy programs in the community; and cultural programs.[19]

The Israel Self-Advocacy conference is held annually in Jerusalem. It is planned, organized and led by members of the community of individuals with intellectual and development disabilities.[20]


  • Haifa & Northern Israel
  • Sharon & Central Israel
  • Elwyn ElQuds, East Jerusalem
  • Jerusalem & Southern Israel

Organizational membership and affiliation

  • Patt Forum for the Advancement and Development of Employment for People with Disabilities in Israel
  • Civic Leadership Umbrella Organization for the Non-Profit Sector in Israel
  • Forum for the Advancement of National Service in Israel
  • Forum Matzliach – Operators of Supported Living Services
  • Coalition of Organizations and Parents for Children with Disabilities
  • Coalition for Dual Diagnosis
  • Early Interventions Centers Committee
  • Israeli Council for Social Welfare
  • Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies Inclusion International (NJHSA)
  • American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD)
  • International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IASSIDD)
  • Inclusion International
  • Zero Project


  1. "From crisis to new opportunities".
  2. "Benefit to raise funds for Israel Elwyn". Canadian Jewish News.
  3. "A challenging history". Elwyn Foundation.
  4. "Jerusalem Foundation: About the Project". Jerusalem Foundation.
  5. "Israel Elwyn presents a tribute to Flaster Greenberg's Frank Risenburger". Flaster
  6. "Israel Elwyn: Milestones". Elwyn Foundation.
  7. "Accessible apartments within the mainstream community".
  8. "Aroma: People with disabilities".
  9. "Let's meet over a cup of coffee at the Weinberg Retiree Center". Elywin Foundation.
  10. "Bezalel designer and curator chosen as Israel Museum's new director". Haaretz.,
  11. "Katie Manson Sensory Garden". Jerusalem Foundation.
  12. "A transition into adulthood programme for young people with disabilities". Zero Project.
  13. "Transition into Adulthood". AI Israel.
  14. "Jewish Federation: Other partners in Israel".
  15. "Fostering a self-advocacy movement for people with intellectual disabilities in Israel". Ruderman Family Foundation.
  16. "Israel Elwyn CEO reflects on changes in field with disability activists,". Jewish Exponent.
  17. "Zero Project awardees, 2019".
  18. "Zero Project: Providing meaningful volunteer work for students with disabilities".
  19. "Israel Elwyn honors local philanthropists".
  20. "Jerusalem conference seeks self-empowerment of people with disabilities".

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