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Israel Elwyn Weinberg Retiree Center
  • 20 Henrietta Szold St. 9650200 Jerusalem Israël
  • 972-2-641-5448
  • David Marcu

Israel Elwyn Weinberg Retiree Center, a program which is a part of a continuum of vocational and employment services, Jerusalem, Israel

  • Residential : Old Age
  • Asia : Israel
  • Fiche d'expérience

Par David Marcu le 06/02/2017

The Weinberg Retiree Center is the first facility of its kind in Israel for retirees with disabilities, as well as the first of its kind to be constructed as a “green” building.

Israel Elwyn Weinberg Retiree Center



Contact:     David B. Marcu, CEO

Israel Elwyn

20 Henrietta Szold St.

9650200 Jerusalem, Israel

Tel: 972-2-641-5448

Fax: 972-2-643-0495



Background on Israel Elwyn

Israel Elwyn (IE) was established in 1984 by the American nonprofit Elwyn Inc. at the invitation of the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Municipality of Jerusalem, and soon became an independent Israeli nonprofit organization.  IE envisions a society in which people with disabilities will be citizens with equal rights; a society in which we all aspire to determine our own future and quality of life.  IE's mission is to develop and provide a wide spectrum of supports and tools for people with disabilities, while constantly striving for excellence of service and the creation of a just society.  Together with people with disabilities and society at large, IE will continue as an innovator and cutting-edge organization whose guiding principle is to provide the adapted and individualized supports necessary so that each person can be fully included in the community. 

IE offers services in the fields of early intervention;, youth transition to adulthood; volunteering in the IDF and in National Service (an accepted alternative to military service for those who are not called up or are ineligible for the military); vocational training, placement and employment; retiree activities; supported living; self-advocacy; and consultation and professional training throughout Israel, as well as consultation and knowhow exchanges in communities in the USA, South America and elsewhere.

To achieve its vision, IE has consistently provided leadership in the development of a wide range of services for people with disabilities that today are considered the standard in the field, including supported employment and social enterprises for the employment of people with intellectual disabilities.  A staff of more than 1,000 professionals has a direct and daily impact on the lives of more than 3,700 individuals with a variety of disabilities and ranging in age from several months through retirement age.  Based on the belief that each individual is entitled to an opportunity to advance based on personal preferences, needs and abilities, Israel Elwyn’s services and approach have benefited tens of thousands of individuals as they strive to achieve greater independence and inclusion in the community.

The efforts that Israel Elwyn has put into the independence component of its goals have expanded and developed over the years and now include direct input on program development by the people served through self-advocacy training and the fostering of self-advocacy groups throughout the country, led by individuals with cognitive disabilities. 

Israel Elwyn’s Retiree Program and the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Retiree Center (Jerusalem)

Israel Elwyn’s Retiree program for seniors with intellectual disabilities was initiated more than fifteen years ago directly in response to the desire on the part of older participants in IE’s Occupational Training Center and Supported Employment program in Jerusalem to retire or to reduce their working hours.  The Retiree program, which operates at several locations in Israel, is part of a continuum of vocational and employment services.  Programming is targeted at seniors who have expressed the desire to curtail their day-to-day activities, whether by cutting back on work hours or by stopping working altogether.  Program content is developed with the full participation of the retirees themselves and provides significant personal choice.  Upon entering the program, each senior is interviewed at length by a staff member about  likes and desires for specific new experiences/skills/activities, adding to the likelihood that the senior will maintain regular and beneficial participation to his or her greatest potential. 

All of the retirees in the Weinberg Retiree Center in Jerusalem are former workers either in IE's nearby Occupational Training Center or in Supported Employment in workplaces in the community.  The participants are over the age of 50 and have shown functional regression (particularly in individuals with Down syndrome, aging and dementia can begin to express themselves even in the mid-forties).  They all live within a 15km radius of the Center.

Between full- and part-time participants in the Weinberg Retiree Center and those receiving advice and assistance in integrating into other programs, the aim is to provide a variety of services to about 100 persons from Jerusalem and the region.  Services are currently provided on a daily basis, five days a week, to 43 elderly individuals with intellectual disability.

The Weinberg Retiree Center is the first facility of its kind in Israel for retirees with disabilities, as well as the first of its kind to be constructed as a “green” building.  The existence of multiple activity rooms allows the seniors to choose between different activities that operate simultaneously in the various rooms.  Planning of the building took full advantage of daylight and air circulation while ensuring the participants' safety through ground level entrances from the first and second floors, broad doorways, an elevator and furnishings that include a variety of comfortable seating options.

Retirees with disabilities who have cut back or eliminated working hours want to fill the new gaps in their day to continue finding support, camaraderie, new skills, and meaning in their lives.  The Weinberg Center's comprehensive program of services incorporates multimedia, therapies, recreation, rest/quiet activities, and sometimes part-time employment opportunities that meet the individual's desire to continue working on a limited basis.

In initiating the Weinberg Center's construction, IE's goals were to:

1.  Build self-sufficiency among those with all levels of developmental disabilities by maximizing their potential to become productive members of their communities; and

2.  Provide general community support through its planned construction within a local community, including gardens with seating and a professional hair salon which will be open to the public and thus will contribute economic and quality of life benefits to entire neighborhood.

3.  Enable seniors with disabilities to remain in their homes (whether with family or in an IE or other supported residence) within the community.

The Weinberg Center Retiree Program includes: 

Physical therapy – Group and private hours in a fully equipped room to maintain functions such as walking, range of movement, etc.

Gym – Workouts with a physical therapist after preparing personal programs to encourage physical activity, maintain muscle, heart and lung stamina and strength on adapted equipment.

Shiatsu – This holistic alternative medicine method consists of finger and palm pressure, stretches, and other massage techniques to connect the body and spirit and create various stimuli in the body.  It assists with orthopedic spinal and digestive problems, and relieves various types of pain and depression.

Emotional and cognitive answers – A range of therapies and activities allows the retirees to develop new areas of interest and exercise existing cognitive abilities, including music, animal therapy, art and therapeutic gardening.  The growing rate of dementia among this age group requires unique solutions.

Snoezelen – This Dutch treatment method is ideal for people with intellectual disabilities and dementia and involves the use of display various stimuli (different lights, photos, etc.), operated by a trained therapist.  Snoezelen has been found to raise the activity level and improve functioning in activities of daily living (ADL).  It helps retirees deal with changes in functional level, family and social circle while also calming them, reducing stress and easing pain.

Computer instruction – Research shows that learning computer skills has a positive effect on maintaining retirees' cognitive level and creating self-empowerment processes, leading to a feeling of control and to self-empowerment.  It also reduces the feeling of being limited and lacking mobility and enables the user to overcome physical limitations and to maintain contact with family and friends, while surfing the Internet increases feelings of empowerment, strengthens self-image and contributes to a feeling of general wellbeing.

Audio-visual room – This room provides the retirees with a quiet place in which to view movies or listen to music.

The Need

In a study of people in Jerusalem who are aging and have disabilities, 80% stated a desire for regular activities that would take the place of sheltered or supported employment now that their physical state prohibited them from working as vigorously as previously.  A similar national study conducted showed identical results, with 80% indicating a wish to explore new hobbies and replace the social network that employment had previously offered.  According to data from the Municipality, before the Weinberg Center's construction, Jerusalem had about 100 persons over the age of 45 who were in a sheltered work program or in supported work and who constituted about 24% of the general population of people with disabilities employed in various programs.


1.  The establishment of a program for retirees is based on the model of the senior day centers operating in the general community with the aim of providing a program for seniors with intellectual disabilities from Jerusalem and its environs.  This program provides a continuum of the services for seniors with disabilities and helps them make the transition from the working environment to retirement, which presents an even greater challenge for them than it does for the general population.  The process of establishing a center was accompanied by a steering committee whose members consisted of representatives from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services, the Jerusalem Municipality, the National Insurance Institute, partner funds and the Israel Elwyn team.  The Center's rehabilitation concepts were crystallized during the Steering Committee's discussions and are expressed in the building's architectural plans and the rate of reimbursement for each person in the program.

2.  Determination of criteria for retirement:  age, functional ability, and the person's desire to retire.

3.  Establishment of groups to prepare people with intellectual disabilities for making the transition from working to retirement.

4.  The Center's rehabilitation program provides a unique response for the changes taking place at this stage in life, similar to the senior population in the community, while relating to issues relevant to aging persons:  information on the aging process, emphasis on social aspects, self-direction and self-advocacy.  The rehabilitation program enables each senior to discover new aspects within him/her and to develop abilities and fields of interest.  The Center's activities are chosen together with the seniors, each of whom chooses in which activities to participate.

5.  The rehabilitation principles relate to the physical, emotional and cognitive aspects relevant to the senior through individual and group work, therapy, enrichment programs, and the possibility of employment and social activities.

6.  The Center was established in the midst of an aging neighborhood.  The neighborhood's seniors are welcome to visit the front garden and lobby, which have relaxation areas, and to avail themselves of the services of the hairdresser and cosmetician to operate on site, as is customary in regular day centers.  Volunteers who are residents of the neighborhood have come forward to contribute their personal and professional talents, according to their varied abilities and needs.  Contact has been made with various age groups through connections with the institutions to be found in the community, such as the synagogue located next door to the Retiree Center, kindergartens, schools, and seniors centers, for reciprocal visits and cooperation in joint events and activities.

The Center will also serve as a base for the support of people with intellectual disabilities in this age group who work through supported employment programs and wish to have more free time but not to retire entirely.  The professional team will work with employers and employees to adapt the employment program to adjust working hours, improve accessibility, etc. in a manner that meets each party's requirements and needs.

Similar to some retirees in the general public, there may be seniors with disabilities who wish to fully retire from the working world but prefer to become involved in volunteer work in the community rather than participate in the Retiree Center's program.  These persons will be assisted in finding a program that suits their needs while satisfying their desire to continue being a part of the productive community.

A limited number of seniors with disabilities who retire from work may prefer to enjoy the services of a neighborhood senior center in the community.  In such cases the Center's professional team will assist in checking the possibilities and ensuring integration into the program chosen.

Langue d'origine : Anglais
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