Yad Sarah was founded 35 years ago by Uri Lupolianski (http://www.yadsarah.org/index.asp?id=83). Today as Israel’s largest voluntary organization with 103 branches throughout the country, Yad Sarah is very well known and most famous for its short-term loans of medical and rehabilitative equipment to anyone in need. Despite knowing about Yad Sarah from family and friends who have borrowed medical equipment or used some of its other services, I had never had occasion to visit its Jerusalem office. Yesterday I needed to borrow a wheelchair for a visiting relative to use and so I made my way to their Jerusalem center. Yad Sarah-Jerusalem is housed in a beautiful ultra-modern building on Herzl Street on the edge of the Yafe Nof neighborhood. It is a well thought out, carefully planned and completely user-friendly building. First of all, unlike many offices and centers in Jerusalem, Yad Sarah has a huge free underground parking garage divided into sections with large numbers of disabled parking nearest the elevators and regular parking spaces just a short walk away from them. After parking in the appropriate section, I walked over to the elevators and rode up to their loan department where I was surprised to find Natan, a dear family friend, manning the phone and handling loan requests along with three other volunteers. The line was long, people were making their requests in Hebrew, Arabic, English, Hungarian, German and French and I thought I was in for a very long wait, but no, the courteous multi-lingual volunteer staff is well trained and in no time flat it was my turn to put in my request.
Once that was done, I was given a note and asked to go to the equipment loan registration desk. The atmosphere in this spacious waiting area with chairs and room for wheelchairs is so friendly that all of us there comfortably waited our turn and none of us minded letting the young mother with the fussy baby go ahead of us! Soon it was my turn. The loan registration procedure was fast and straightforward, I handed the volunteer my note, she keyed in the information, then asked me for my Israeli Identity Card and phone number in order to list me as the borrower along with information regarding who would be using the wheelchair. Once that was done she gently asked me “Do you have an exemption from deposit form or will you be leaving your deposit via cash, check or credit card?” I chose the credit card option and handed her my card, as she swiped the card she explained that the deposit would be listed as a charge on it and once I returned the wheelchair I would be issued a direct to credit card refund of the deposit. After this was all taken care of I took the computerized receipt back to Natan who supplied me with the wheelchair, a wheelchair pillow, (“the pillow is for comfort, no extra charge”, he said with a smile) and the standard explanation about how to store, transport and use the wheelchair. I was in and out of Yad Sarah within 30 minutes!
I was so impressed by my experience at Yad Sarah yesterday that when my relative finishes using the wheelchair I borrowed for her, I will ask Yad Sarah to accept my deposit as a donation instead of having them refund it to me. Additionally, this morning I spent some time on the Net learning about their other services. Briefly, their nationwide services, besides their medical and rehabilitative equipment loan system, include: transportation for the elderly and disabled; day care centers for the disabled; meals on wheels for the sickly, elderly and disabled; personal computerized emergency alarm systems for the elderly and disabled which are monitored 24/7; drop-in centers; and minimum charge dental clinics. All of these services are provided by Yad Sarah volunteers and with the exception of the dental clinics are free of charge. To read more about Yad Sarah please do visit their internet site at: http://www.yadsarah.org/index.asp?id=61 This page has general information about Yad Sarah and links to other pages with more specific information about their services.