Yachad Gifts Opens Its Doors

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An array of baskets line the shelves in the new store. Photo: Stuart Gourdji

Only two short years after its launch in August 2013, Yachad Gifts has opened its own retail store in Brooklyn. Yachad Gifts, a project of Yachad, the Orthodox Union’s flagship program of the National Jewish Council for Disabilities, was created to provide job training and meaningful employment to individuals with disabilities, while supplying the public with specially crafted gift baskets. According to the United States Department of Labor, nearly 70 percent of Americans with disabilities are unemployed.

“We are a stronger, richer community if we allow ourselves to benefit from the many ways in which people with special needs can contribute,” says Dr. Jeffrey Lichtman, international director of Yachad/NJCD. “If we don’t, it’s a waste of a valuable resource. And people with disabilities are a resource.”

Though it began with just two paid workers and a handful of volunteers in a cramped Brooklyn office, Yachad Gifts, which offers high-quality gifts and gift baskets for every occasion, such as graduations, holidays and bar mitzvahs, is now located in a spacious store and boasts a staff of nine paid workers, four of whom are Yachad members. Employees are involved in every step of the process, from taking phone orders to creating the baskets to working to promote and market the gifts. Additionally, some twenty Yachad members volunteer at the store.

Yachad members Brandon Levine, twenty-five, of New York, NY, and Moshe Dovid Bronstein, twenty-eight, of Brooklyn, NY, prepare baskets.

Yachad members Brandon Levine, twenty-five, of New York, NY, and Moshe Dovid Bronstein, twenty-eight, of Brooklyn, NY, prepare baskets. Photo: Stuart Gourdji

“I enjoy meeting new people and talking with the customers,” said Chaim Goldman, a Yachad member who mans a Yachad Gifts baskets stand in Crown Heights. “I’m positive and polite; I say, ‘Excuse me; would you like to take a look at the gift baskets?’ I tell them to come see our retail store.”

“Yachadgifts.com is the perfect way for us to accomplish multiple goals,” explains Allen I. Fagin, OU executive vice president. “First, it provides meaningful jobs and vocational training to a number of our Yachad participants. Second, it provides everyone with a wonderful opportunity to support Yachad’s activities and its overarching goal of successful Inclusion. And finally, it is a wonderful way to celebrate a simchah.”

To date, Yachad Gifts has sold approximately 7,000 baskets.

To place an order, please visit yachadgifts.com or call the toll-free number: 855.505.7500. You can also visit the Yachad Gifts retail store at 1090 Coney Island Avenue, Fourth Floor, in Brooklyn.

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This article was featured in the Winter 2015 issue of Jewish Action.
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