On Sunday morning, surrounded by a beaming crowd of friends and family at Saks Fifth Avenue in Highland Park, Yali Derman (pictured at left with Rabbi Sykes), Schechter Class of 2005, debuted her new "Yali Carry On" handbag. Proceeds from the sale of Yali's handbag, featuring a magnificent 18-color peacock, will be used to help Children Memorial Hospital's Foundation K.I.D.S.S. for KIDS fund the new playroom on the hematology-oncology floor at Children's new hospital, which is due to open in 2012.
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With poise and passion, this two-time cancer survivor credited Children's Memorial Hospital's art therapy program with helping her to develop her artistic talent and creative flair. Her medical team, many of whom are the proud owners of some of Yali's original "handbags" created from the bandanas she was given as a cancer patient to cover her head, attended the debut at Saks. With tears and pride, they graciously accepted the first of the new Yali Carry Ons.
"We are all created as beings who are faced with unique challenges, disappointments, successes and victories. But we are also designers of our own lives, and can shape the way these experiences affect us," said Yali. Clearly Yali lives each day by her principle of "vibrant elegance, vast purpose, and a meaningful voice for not only the cancer experience but also for any challenging experience."
Dr. Carol Rosenberg Derman, Yali's proud mother, recalls the support Yali and the family received from the Schechter community while Yali was undergoing cancer treatment. "At a time of success, it is always important to acknowledge the support and advocacy of Yali and our family that has always been present from the Solomon Schechter community." That same support was evident as many of Yali's Schechter teachers and friends attended the event, as did many friends and members of the administration of Chicagoland Jewish High School and Camp Ramah.
"The Yali Carry On message is also appropriate for the Jewish people, and I credit my Jewish day school education at Solomon Schechter Day School and Chicagoland Jewish High School for making it clear that survival in the face of adversity is a life-long challenge," said Yali in an article which appeared in 2008 in Schechter's Kol Schechter newsletter. "The Jewish people thrive in the face of all of our challenges throughout the ages by attempting to turn unfavorable circumstances into opportunities that push our goals and dreams forward."
"We are so proud of Yali's triumphant spirit and her ability to turn her experience into an opportunity to help others overcome adversity," said Linda P. Foster, Schechter CEO/Head of School. "Yali is truly a shining example of the values we teach and live by at Solomon Schechter. Our Schechter community and beyond is kvelling right along with Yali's family."
More on Yali:
Yali Derman (Class of 2005) attended Chicagoland Jewish High School (CJHS) following Solomon Schechter. Always interested in fashion, art and design, Yali founded the "Vaad Vogue" society at CJHS, a club that created beautiful accessories for seriously ill children. Va'ad Vogue's mission was to perform acts of "Hiddur Mitzvah" (beautifying the commandments). After designing and marketing a handbag with Kate Spade and company to benefit the Make A Wish Foundation, Yali continued to design handbags and raise money through her alliance with Children's Memorial Hospital's foundation KIDSS for KIDS under her own trademark "Yali's Carry On"tm.
Yali is also a seven-year veteran of Camp Ramah in Wisconsin. She served on staff as an art educator where she brought to the Northwoods the "Yali's Carry On with Creatvity Workshop," which involved participants in the interpretative task of creating their own personalized tote bags. Said her proud mother Dr. Carol Rosenberg: "Yali's pedagogic technique involves teaching others how to express their "autobiographical voice" onto the tote by "meaningfully and creatively honoring who we are as both creations in God's image and also designers of our own lives."
Yali is a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania where she is in the School of Nursing. In addition to her latest endeavor with the Yali's Carry On for KIDSS — SAKS project, she facilitates her tote-making workshop on the oncology ward at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.