President’s Message

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Message from Diane Richler, C.M.

President, Canadian Friends of AKIM

Diane Richler

Diane Richler – President, Canadian Friends of AKIM

Growing up in Canada shortly after the founding of the State of Israel, I was inspired by the Jewish organizations that learned from the horrors of the Holocaust to focus on the Jewish values of KAVOD – respect; ACHIRAYUT- responsibility; CHESED – caring; and KEHILLAH- community.

My professional work taught me that people with intellectual disabilities were among the least respected and the most excluded from their communities, and that they and their families suffered from the painful lack of support and empathy.
Collaborating with AKIM Israel has given me the privilege of putting Jewish values into action while supporting those who are most excluded. AKIM is the leading organization in Israel supporting people with intellectual disabilities and their families – with 65 branches throughout Israel; activities in 88 cities and local authorities; 62 community housing facilities and apartments; 38 social and recreational centres; 1325 volunteers; serving 35,000 people with intellectual disabilities; and supporting 140,000 family members. AKIM has matured from an organization that began to meet the immediate needs of families to one which not only provides services, but also works towards the vision “to make Israeli society a better place for people with intellectual disabilities and their families: a respecting, warm and accepting society that facilitates self-realization, in acknowledgement of difference and in commitment so equal opportunities.”

The late Alex and Olga Eisen founded Canadian Friends of AKIM to support Israel, and in particular to support families who shoulder the extra responsibilities of having a child with a disability. For over 60 years, generous Canadians have supported projects which contribute to AKIM’s vision.

Please continue to support Canadian Friends of AKIM to help those who are often ignored, and to contribute to strengthening a more inclusive Israel.