“Society has a responsibility towards those who are different”
Founder of Beit Issie Shapiro Naomi Stuchiner was profiled by Israel Hayom as one of "70 Israelis You Should Know," in honor of Yom Ha'atzmaut and Israel's 70th birthday. Naomi talks about her life, founding BIS, and how BIS has become a symbol of Israel to the world in the field of disabilities.
from Israel Hayom, 02.04.2018
Thirty-eight years ago, Naomi Stuchiner established Beit Issie Shapiro in order to provide opportunities for people with disabilities
Special Project: 70 Israelis You Should Know
by Noam (Duval) Dvir
Naomi Stuchiner – one of the pioneers of social activism in Israel – celebrated her 70th birthday this year, putting her in step with the country from day one. The founder of Beit Issie Shapiro in Ra'anana, Naomi has been a social activist for 40 years, focusing especially on the inclusion of people with disabilities.
Naomi was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. She immigrated to Israel in 1970 and immediately became involved in community service. She set up the Tel Aviv Municipality's Community Department in Shechunat HaTikva and was one of the founders of the Mental Health Unit at Shalvata Psychiatric Hospital. The sudden death of her father – Issie Shapiro – in 1980 propelled her, together with her family, to establish a home in his name, aimed at improving the lives of children and adults with disabilities and their families.
"My father had a vision: He believed that every person has the right to live with dignity within the community and that society has a responsibility to provide equal opportunities to those with disabilities, to those who are different. My father saw the need to bring about a significant change in attitudes towards people with disabilities and provide them with equal opportunities so that they could flourish in society. This is something that he instilled in us, with the belief that this was attainable. He was a strong man, larger than life, and left us with an amazing legacy, to the extent that today, our entire extended family is involved and committed to the work we do."
Beit Issie Shapiro is not only active in Israel – it represents the country around the world. "When I see today how the organization I established represents Israel at the United Nations as a consultant to the Economic and Social Council, displays the Israeli flag as a symbol of excellence in the field of disabilities, and acts as a source of inspiration to the world at large, I am filled with a wonderful sense of satisfaction," says Naomi.
Naomi lives in Ra'anana with her husband, Tuvia. She is a mother of four children and has 11 grandchildren. "We are a very Zionistic family," she stresses. "Over the years, my whole family has come to live in Israel. I see the future of my children and grandchildren here. We strongly believe that Israel is the place for us, in spite of the difficult challenges we face here. I still believe that this is our country and that we must invest in and contribute to its welfare in order to make it a better place for all. I believe in the strength and power of Israeli society."
Original article published in Hebrew at http://www.israelhayom.co.il/article/546231