Every person has a basic need and right to be part of a community. Often, people with special needs experience feelings of social isolation and loneliness in the broader community. Kishorit emphasizes the importance of belonging, of feeling part of something larger than oneself, of strengthening social bonds within the community, of mutual responsibility to the other and unconditional acceptance, of partnership and a sense of self-worth, despite our differences.
The adults who live in Kishorit are not called “patients” or “clients,” but rather “members,” full partners in the community. Every member is given the right and freedom of choice to integrate to the degree and at the pace that s/he feels is appropriate for him/herself. They are given the right to develop a group of close, supportive friends, to participate in communal decision-making, to organize events, and to establish communal norms.
Life in Kishorit is based on the traditional kibbutz model and gives members many opportunities to meet one another throughout the day – in the communal dining room where three meals are served daily, at work, in the gym, at the pool, in the lounge or at one of dozens of leisure time activities that are offered each evening.
Independence and autonomy are two of the foundational principles of Kishorit and are expressed in the set-up of the residential quarters. Every member has a private room, appropriate to the age and needs of the member. Private rooms offer dignity and personal space, but also provide an opportunity for informal social gatherings outside of the lounge or organized activities. Members can choose to live alone in a studio apartment, with a same-gender flat-mate in a two bedroom apartment, in Kishorit’s nursing facility if they need round-the clock supervision, or as part of a romantic couple. There are approximately two dozen couples in Kishorit, including four married couples, all of whom met in Kishorit. Members who choose to do so are permitted to keep pets in their apartments and many adopt cats or dogs from the Kishorit kennel.
Members who prefer to live outside of Kishorit, fully integrated into the general community, can do so in Kishorit’s supported apartments in Carmiel and K’far Vradim. These apartments are supported by Kishorit staff, and members who live there may choose to work and/or enjoy social activities in Kishorit.
Kishorit provides a continuum of services that allows members to choose the right living arrangement for themselves at different points in the life cycle. For example, a member could choose to live in a studio apartment in Kishorit, then to move into the supported apartments in Carmiel, and then move back to Kishorit’s nursing facility. The continuum of services approach allows for a dynamic process and an emphasis on personal choice and self-determination (in consultation with staff) throughout the life cycle.
Great attention is paid to aesthetics in Kishorit, both in terms of the buildings and residential units, and in terms of the gardens and grounds. Each residence is a ground floor garden apartment, surrounded by plants and greenery, with a very “homey” feeling like the kibbutz residences of old. Every apartment has basic furniture, a refrigerator, a television, a telephone and a panic button and intercom system from which the member can call for help in an emergency. Every apartment has a patio with furniture that allows friends to sit outside together. Throughout Kishorit there are green, open spaces where members can also gather and enjoy each other’s company.
The members of Kishorit live in a supportive community that gives them the tools to plan and manage their lives, rather than having their futures dictated to them. As partners in the community, and with the appropriate support from staff, they are responsible for making decisions that affect themselves and the life of the community.
Like traditional kibbutzim Kishorit has centralized service centers that provide meal and laundry services. They also serve as important and attractive workplaces for many of our members:
Meals: As in traditional kibbutzim, meals are served three times daily in the communal dining room. Staff, volunteers and members all eat together at set times. The menu answers the range of medical needs and personal tastes of the members, and consists partially of the organic produce and products cultivated in Kishorit. The menu offers vegetarian, low calorie and no-sugar options at every meal. Members who can’t or don’t want to eat in the communal dining room may take food from the dining room and eat in their own apartments or may cook in their own kitchenettes.
Laundry: Following the traditional kibbutz model, laundry is done centrally in the communal Laundromat.
Clinic and Medical: There is 24 hour medical care available for members, the staff and the volunteers. A nurse is on the premises or on call around the clock, and is supported by a family doctor, a psychiatrist and a dentist who each come several times per week. Close supervision is provided for members who take regular medication and staff accompanies members when they visit outside doctors or medical facilities.
There is a dietician on staff who consults with those members who are on weight loss plans and the staff encourages the members to participate in individual and group sports to lose weight and maintain healthy lifestyles. The medical staff updates the professional staff and family members constantly.
Leisure Time: Arts and Activities:
A great deal of attention is dedicated to filling leisure time with social and educational offerings. Members can choose how to spend their free time, with guidance from the professional staff.
Kishorit believes that using free time appropriately is an important contributing factor to a person’s rehabilitation. Therefore, the group and individual activities offered are an opportunity for members to accomplish things, express their creativity and experience a sense of pride both individually and collectively.
As part of our therapeutic philosophy and continuum of services approach, a wide range of leisure time activities are offered and members have full autonomy to choose the activities that interest them and are appropriate to their strengths and level of functioning. These include, (but aren’t limited to!) Israeli folk dancing, swimming, soccer, basketball, singing, music, cooking, computers, yoga, ceramics, plastic arts, photography, Torah classes, current events discussions, drawing and textile arts.
The textile arts:
The wall hangings created in the textile arts class are featured in a catalogue that was created by Kishorit and the wall hangings have been sold to the general community. In 2010, the members of Kishorit mounted a major art exhibit in Jaffa entitled “Fabric of Life” where the tapestries were displayed. The exhibit was opened by President Shimon Peres and viewed by more than 1000 visitors. In 2012, the pieces were shipped to Pittsburgh, PA, USA where they were again displayed in a well received exhibit. In 2015 the exhibit was displayed in Mishkan Art Museum Ein Harod. (view slideshare at the end of the text).
At least two leisure time activities are offered each day, and every activity is offered weekly. The selection of activities changes every three months with some activities remaining constant and others rotating. Most members participate in at least 2-3 activities on a regular, consistent basis.
In addition, members can choose to participate in activities outside of Kishorit, such as soccer, basketball and dance. Some members express interest in expanding their academic or vocational credentials in different areas. When Kishorit is unable to satisfy these aspirations through the regular activities, we enable to the member to take enrichment courses in their areas of interest outside of Kishorit
During the evening hours, members gather in the lounge, the central place for social gatherings. There, they play board games, read newspapers, watch TV, and chat over coffee and cake that is served by their fellow members.
For members who have an interest in religion, the staff studies with them and participates in special religious celebrations and practices. In the future, we plan to build a synagogue in Kishorit which will expand our ability to provide religious services. We also aim to open a museum for outsider art and an artist-in-residence program for artists who will spend part of their time working with the members.
Finally, Kishorit boasts a swimming pool, weight room/gym, basketball court and soccer field that are open to the members daily.
Kishorit’s rich cultural life is comprised of internal cultural events produced by the members of Kishorit, external cultural events that are brought into the village and external cultural events to which we travel outside of the village.
The internal cultural activities revolve primarily around the Sabbath and the Jewish holidays. A major party or celebration is held for every holiday, planned by a joint committee of Kishorit members and staff. The parties and ceremonies include shows, readings, choir performances, dances and decorations.
In Kishorit, there is a weight room, a hydrotherapy pool, a basketball court, a soccer field, a synagogue and a mikveh. Future plans include a shopping center, a beauty parlor, an arts center and museum, a restaurant and more.
The community also publishes a newspaper that is written and edited by the members and staff. In addition, the communications center videos everything done in the various employment centers and throughout the village. The communications center broadcasts a monthly news magazine about the members’ lives.
Often, groups of members go out to the movies or to live performances. They participate in events in Carmiel such as the Israeli dance festival and the annual Independence Day celebration and fireworks. Kishorit owns a private bus that enables the members to go on organized trips, to shows and tiyulim throughout Israel. Furthermore, the bus offers a daily round trip shuttle service to nearby Carmiel, after work hours, and members may run errands or “hang out” as they choose.