Café Shalva is officially open to the public and invites visitors to enjoy a rich selection of pastries, shakes, quality coffee and a step into a more inclusive world. How? The staff of Café Shalva, waiters as well as chefs, is comprised of seasoned restaurateurs working hand-in-hand with individuals with disabilities, graduates of Shalva’s programs.

A branch of the esteemed Derech HaGefen restaurant in Beit Zayit, the establishment’s management partnered with Shalva in devising a two-pronged vocational curriculum. The first facet prepares individuals with disabilities to enter the workforce with proper vocational training, and the second facet educates employees from the broader community about how to successfully work side-by-side with their coworkers with disabilities.

The Café’s very first employee with disabilities, Yair, is a waiter who always serves his restaurant clients with utmost enthusiasm. Aside from his efficient service, Yair’s smile is a bonus that has earned him quite a bit of tips. We’re big fans of Yair, and he’s become a spokesperson for Shalva’s unique message of inclusion: He serves as a star percussionist and solo rapper in the Shalva band. He even was even one of only two participants selected to represent the band on their maiden voyage abroad, performing in New York City in 2015.

The café is one of several meaningful vocational opportunities now available to our graduates on Shalva’s own campus.

This places the Café as a, positively speaking, self-fulfilling prophecy of Shalva’s own agenda. The youngest participants of Shalva’s program enter just months after birth and are guided through a continuum of programs intended to help them arrive at adulthood complete with independent living and a job with commensurate pay. This vision was brought to fruition in partnership with the Mayberg Family Charitable Foundation. Café Shalva is one of several self-determination inclusive work settings at the National Center.