Gush Etzion Foundation

The Sadna – Communal Village

The Sadnat Shiluv Community Village of Gush Etzion

My name is David, I’m a 20-years-old with Down syndrome and I live in an apartment in the community of Gvaot.  I live with five good friends and together we are learning how to cook for ourselves, how to clean, and organize the apartment and our rooms.  Our counselor, who lives with us, helps me use my free time wisely with things I love to do like playing soccer, or walking the dogs we have here.

I have an “adopted family” within the community of Gvaot, whom I love, and I eat Shabbat meals with them each week.  I’m happy that I live in my apartment with friends, because at home I’m bored and don’t have friends. My parents work and by siblings are already married.

I’m Ronit’s mother. Ronit is our firstborn daughter and is 22-years-old.

Ronit was born as a healthy child, but at the age of six she developed severe epilepsy.  The disease greatly affected Roni’s brain and she has been experiencing severe seizures ever since. Life at home was very difficult, so we had to move her to a specialized healthcare living facility.

We are waiting (impatiently) for a spot to open up, so that we can move Ronit to the Sadnat Shiluv Community Village, where she will be living within an inclusive and accepting community and she will be able to develop in a natural environment.

Background on the Sadnat Shiluv

The sadna is a unique educational community village, which specializes in the integration of individuals with special needs.

The Sadnat Shiluv includes two schools, community housing, and various types of employment which provides vocational training and work opportunities for people with special needs. From agriculture to animal care, various types of arts, and the operation of a café, the members of our community are taught the skills they need to be a part of the working community.

Today there are 180 people working at the sadna with a total of 250 students within the various educational frameworks. There are also 70 individuals who live in the on-campus apartments.

The Sadnat Shiluv is located within the Western Gush Etzion community of Gvaot and is the central focus of the community with 50 exceptional families living there who have chosen “integration” as a way of life. They believe in raising their children in an integrated community where those with disabilities are seen as equals.

The residents of the sadna are fully integrated within the community. Each of them has an “adopted family” and is hosted by them weekly.  They hold employment positions specifically tailored for them within the community including in the Synagogue, local library, and more and fully participate in community events and activities.

Dog Kennel/Therapy Project

Dogs have always played a central role in helping to make an emotional and personal contact with our students. Many of the students who come to us arrive due to behavioral issues or various mental disabilities. They are in need of a sense of connection and to be able to accept responsibility, which working with dogs can provide.  After seeing that students were able to achieve and make tremendous progress caring for dogs, we decided to develop a project and build a curriculum with a focus on this type of interaction between our students and animals.

Maintaining a dog kennel and working with the animals opens doors for this community with disabilities allowing them to receive the animal therapy needed, while also providing skills towards a career in working with animals whether as dog handlers or trainers. In addition, some of the students, with the acquired skill set are able to give classes and therapies for other students.

Also, some of the students will be able to apply this knowledge and training to their army careers such as the IDF’s K9 unit.

Item Details Cost (in USD)
Building Training Classroom $530 per meter X 40 = $21,000
Training Yard Special grass, including installation $33 per meter X 190 = $6,270
Training Yard Fencing $28 per meter X 100 = $2,800
Training Yard Shading Covers $68 per meter X 190 = $12,920
Equipment Training Equipment $7,390
Dogs 6 dogs = $1,250
Total project cost: $58,080