Kishorit is a home for life for adults with special needs in the Western Galilee. It is a supportive community that provides a continuum of residential, social and vocational services. Kishorit members live full, independent lives, and mature and grow old with dignity.
Being a home for life means being a warm and nurturing home where the members can live for the rest of their lives. They celebrate happy occasions together, share experiences, face difficulties and struggle with common challenges. The Kishorit framework provides the members with a range of residential options, employment opportunities, leisure time activities, private living quarters, medical supervision, nursing care when necessary, and opportunities for integration into the broader community.
Kishorit enables the members to achieve their full potentials, despite their disabilities, by providing support for their special physical and cognitive needs. Most importantly, Kishorit provides them with a deep sense of social belonging and full membership in a community.
Kishorit was established in 1997 by Yael Shilo and Shuki Levinger, on the land of the abandoned Kibbutz Kishor. Kishorit adopts much of its therapeutic and rehabilitative philosophy from the Israeli kibbutz movement. Life in Kishorit is driven by the principal that “each contributes to the community according to his ability and takes from the community according to his need.” The members work in the various businesses and service centers in Kishorit and advance communal goals as much as much as they can.
Kishorit provides its members – who have been alienated by society and have experienced intense loneliness and isolation – the chance to feel a sense of belonging, friendship and partnership in the community.
In keeping with our continuum of services approach, Kishorit members can work in the general community or in one of our kibbutz businesses.
Kishorit owns and operates several businesses that employ the Kishorit members, including: a dog kennel where champion schnauzers and dachshunds are bred, a communications center that produces a monthly television show for mainstream Israeli TV, a therapeutic riding stable, an organic vegetable garden, a bakery, a free-range egg farm that sells 500,000 eggs annually, the largest organic goat dairy in Israel which produces 500,000 liters of goat milk, a cheese factory, a vineyard and a winery. The food and fresh produce grown in Kishorit provide for the needs of the Kishorit kitchen and is sold in the general marketplace to generate revenue for our community.
Meaningful employment is a critical part of the rehabilitative process and achieving independence. Work provides a daily routine, a place to form social bonds, a way to learn new skills, and a source of self esteem and self worth. In consultation with his/her social worker, each member decides where he/she wants to work and is placed in a job that suits his/her strengths and interests.
The members of Kishorit are part of a supportive community that allows them to fulfill their potentials, despite their disabilities, and provides them with the tools to plan their lives rather than having their futures dictated to them. The members are full partners in determining where they will work, how they will integrate into the community, and what therapeutic and rehabilitative goals they want to achieve. With staff guidance, kibbutz members make community decisions about their lives and communal events. Members are full partners in building the community. They sit on various committees, set communal norms and expectations, and influence daily life.
Members also have a great deal of personal autonomy with regard to their living arrangements. Kishorit offers a continuum of residential services so that each member can choose the option that is most appropriate for him or her. Members can choose to live in supported apartments in the city of Carmiel, in the residential Kibbutz Kishor community, alone, with a roommate (done in conjunction with the social work staff), or with a romantic partner. There are several married couples at Kishorit who met one another in the community, and approximately 2 dozen other couples who are not married, but live together. Finally, members who are elderly, experiencing dementia or facing other health challenges that require round the clock nursing care, can choose to live in the on-site nursing facility.
The Kishorit community consists of people with a wide range of strengths and challenges. All are adults over the age of 18 with varying degrees of developmental disabilities or debilitating mental illnesses that impair their functioning. The commonality between all of the Kishorit members is their difficulty or inability to live totally independently in the general society. The Kishorit members need supervision, support and guidance in various life skills, activities of daily living and employment.
The adults who live in Kishorit are not called “patients” or “clients,” but ”members.” Each member of the community has the right to decide how to conduct his life and to achieve his goals while receiving the support services he needs. Great emphasis is placed on the member’s personal desires and aspirations as we empower the members to become as independent as possible. The aim is to help the members achieve as much independence as possible, while respecting the individual’s autonomy, privacy and dignity and accepting their limitations.
When the members age and can no longer function independently, there is a nursing facility where they can receive round-the-clock care, supervision and help.
Kishorit provides its members with a sense of warmth and love like a true home and family. A great deal of attention is paid to the aesthetic quality of the village. The inside of the communal buildings and private homes as well as the outside landscaping lend a sense of dignity, cleanliness and self-respect. The homes are designed with a village-like architecture and are painted pastel colors. Beautiful, manicured gardens and natural forest surround the homes. Large grassy areas are scattered throughout the village streets. The community boasts a weight room/gym, basketball court, stable, hydrotherapy pool, lounge and art studio all for the use and enjoyment of the members. A pleasant sense of calm pervades the village and it has a welcome affect on the health and well-being of the members and staff.
Kishorit is a supportive therapeutic environment that provides a full range of residential, vocational and social solutions, both within our kibbutz setting and in the community at large. Kishorit provides many opportunities for integration into the broader community. Members are free to travel in and out of Kishorit (upon notifying the supervising staff). In addition to local public transportation, the Kishorit bus provides a daily shuttle into nearby Carmiel, as well as organized trips to cultural events and sites throughout Israel.
In the near future, 100 mainstream families will move into the expanded Kibbutz Kishor and will build their homes alongside the current Kishorit members. With the new families’ support, we look forward to building a unique, inclusive communal model that will serve as an example for people around the world who are interested in the rehabilitation and integration of adults with special needs.
Kishorit strives to be a self-sustaining community both environmentally and economically. Kishorit practices organic farming and environmentally friendly business practices. The vocational centers are evaluated along two axes: 1) their therapeutic value and contribution to the members’ rehabilitation and 2) their ability to generate revenue and be financially viable. For example, the agricultural produce grown in Kishorit supplies all of the daily needs of the Kishorit members and is sold to the general population to fund some of our activities.
The lifestyle at Kishorit is intended to provide members with the maximum health and environmental benefits.
Kishorit is home to 170 members. There are 175 paid employees and up to 20 volunteers annually who dedicate a year of their lives to volunteering at Kishorit before enlisting in the army.