I love going to new places in Israel and introducing the kids to unusual and eye-opening experiences. Zeli’s birthday is on Sunday and we wanted to do something a bit different for him today. We’ve raised money in the past, through the Jerusalem Marathon, for Shalva and knew that they had opened an amazing new facility. The center is home to a restaurant called Cafe Shalva where many Shalva graduates with Down Syndrome and other challenges work.
So, Shalva it was for us today. Shalva was started in 1990 by Malki and Kalman Samuels, when they had difficulties finding an appropriate location to help their son who was blind, deaf and acutely hyperactive. With a dream and an incredible amount of ambition, the Samuels founded Shalva, which today, services more than 1000 participants with disabilities. They have an enormous range of programs and round-the-clock therapies all completely free of charge.
When we arrived today, we were all stunned by the size and beauty of the buildings. They have 200,000 square feet of space which includes semi-Olympic and hydrotherapy pools, a 400 seat auditorium, six acres of parks fit for children of every ability, countless classrooms, therapy spaces and more. It’s an awe-inspiring experience to be there and to see what they have to offer.
We enjoyed the small fraction of their space that we saw. The cafe was lovely, delicious and fast. The prices were great and the offerings were expansive. Other than when I dropped an entire bowl of ice cream on the birthday boy’s lap, we all had a wonderful time.
Every inch of the facility is covered with inspirational sayings and beautiful art.
And the playground facilities kept the little kids engaged until we dragged them away.
Looking for something different to do during the dog days of summer? It is well worth the experience to go to Shalva in Jerusalem and to see how one family’s need, and their dream, could be turned into such a glorious reality.