The initiative to establish an ombudsman to oversee institutions for the disabled is gaining momentum. Today, organizations and government representatives gathered in Jerusalem to discuss the possibility of establishing an external body to monitor the living conditions and treatment of people with disabilities in the institutions in which they live.
Shira Ruderman, Israel Director of the Ruderman Family Foundation and a partner in this project, stated at the meeting that the foundation is proud to be part of a such a significant process that will grant those with disabilities the rights which they deserve, particularly through integration with the community.
Prof. Yedidia Stern, Vice President of the Israel Democracy Institute, said, "We at the Institute are constantly engaged [in the issue of] rights, and for twenty years it never occurred to us to take the time to engage in the discourse of rights for those with disabilities. IDI is very happy for the opportunity to join this effort. Our angle of involvement, through the help of Rabbi Benny Lau, will be the rights of the disabled in Jewish law."
The Director-General of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services, Yossi Silman, revealed the Ministry's plan for the next three years. "We will integrate 1000 disabled people into the community, and we will increase the number of youth movement branches that serve the disabled community," said Silman. Silman further revealed that one of the recommendations of a committee he leads, which examines the issue of community integration, is to establish an Ombudsman within the Ministry of Social Affairs. "An Ombudsman is necessary, but within the Ministry and not as an external body."