Workers are putting finishing touches on two new nonprofit homes in Reseda that will provide social and spiritual training for developmentally disabled adults.
"This is based on a need the Jewish community had--they wanted homes that also would be homes where residents could observe Jewish holidays . . . eat kosher food," said Jill Katell, director of the program, called Beit Chaverim.
The two rambling single-family homes, at 7101 and 7107 Beckford Ave. next to the Grancell Village Jewish Home for the Aging, will house a total of 10 people beginning in November, Katell said. The $300,000 costs of refurbishing the homes and starting the program came from private donations, including a $172,000 grant from the Jewish Community Foundation, she said.
Michael Turner, spokesman for the Jewish Home for the Aging, a sponsor, said the Beit Chaverim homes are believed to be the only residential facilities in Los Angeles that cater specifically to Jews who are developmentally disabled.
Residents will be charged $2,500 per month. Katell said that eventually the Jewish Home for the Aging and its affiliate, Chaverim for Adults with Developmental Disabilities, plan to start an endowment to provide for low-income tenants.
Job training, including hands-on clerical and janitorial training at the nearby Grancell Village nursing home, may be included in the daily life of residents. But the focus of the homes is socialization and religious training--from Passover traditions to Hebrew to preparation for bar mitzvahs, said Rae Klaus, Chaverim director.
"I feel the Jewish community has for a long time overlooked this population. We need to recognize them," said Barbara Bergstein, who is considering placing her 16-year-old daughter, who is autistic, in one of the homes.
Teaching religion to the developmentally disabled was once shunned, Klaus said.
"At one time it was considered that . . . if not done to the letter it wasn't the real thing," she said. Now, Klaus' organization hopes that the homes will help integrate developmentally disabled people into the Jewish community.
"It's a question of inclusion. Disabled people should be included in all areas of life," she said.