Alex Kolomoisky, Yedioth Ahronoth

The Wind Beneath Their Wings

“Every person has a disability, whether visible or not. I have one, too. The most important thing is not to let a handicap, or the way we look, walk, or talk, hide the true self inside us.” — Nechama Rivlin

In a conversation with members of the movement Krembo Wings, Nechama Rivlin, the late wife of President Rivlin, insisted that when it comes to inclusion programs, everyone gains — both the special-education participants and their able-bodied counselors. Nechama should know: Having herself suffered from a respiratory disability, she modeled the virtues of empathy and acceptance for an entire nation, and was much loved for it.

Krembo Wings, a network of youth groups for children and young adults with and without disabilities, is named after Israel’s popular marshmallow treats. Coated with a thin chocolate layer, each of them needs to be wrapped by hand, since no machine can do it gently enough. At Krembo Wings, every branch is its own rainbow: Some have disabilities, while others don’t; some are considered “at risk”, while others enjoy privileged backgrounds. There are religious and secular participants and members of every nationality and community represented in Israel, and together, they create a world in which everyone finds power in empowering others.

In this spirit, participants in the dozens of branches throughout the country, no matter their rank, wear a tie of the same color. It symbolizes the equal contribution that each person makes to the movement, as well as the equal value each has in the eyes of his or her peers. In acknowledgement of the movement’s success in shaping its participants into young people who live and love to help others, the United Nations declared Krembo Wings an official advisor on integration and inclusion in 2018.