A new grant to MARVA from an anonymous Israeli foundation has helped facilitate the launch of “Merkaz Semel,” a nationwide initiative to provide MARVA’s legal aid and therapeutic services for the population of people with psychiatric disabilities who live in the community. 

The program addressing the needs of this population launched last year with generous funding from the Laszlo N. Tauber Family Foundation, enabling MARVA to focus on the use of Advance Directives, the Supported Decision-Making Model, and other alternatives to guardianship on behalf of this population. This new grant helps make it possible for MARVA to expand legal aid to other types of legal support, and formalize the program across the country.

Merkaz Semel, an acronym for Legal Aid for People with Psychiatric Disabilities and their Families, will operate out of MARVA’s Jerusalem headquarters as well as three to four other sites across the country. 

The Center will also serve as the hub for MARVA’s outreach to families and professionals who assist people with psychiatric disabilities, to raise awareness. “There is enormous need for MARVA’s legal and therapeutic services for this population, which is exceedingly under-served,” says Dr. Mickey Schindler, MARVA’s Executive Director. “In 2019, the first year that the program operated, 154 people received assistance from MARVA attorneys and social workers. In the first five months of 2020 alone, as the service became better known, we received over 300 requests for assistance. We hope that, through word-of-mouth, our website, and by getting out the word to the professional and welfare communities, we will be able to reach many more people in need of our help.” For more information on this program and MARVA’s funding needs, please contact us: info@marva.org.il.