When my daughter meets non-disabled people and tells them about her studies at Bar-Ilan – their eyes open wide in amazement – they simply can’t believe it’s true! As her mother, I’m constantly amazed anew. The academics, the faculty support, the companionship of the regular students, and the challenge of standard coursework give my daughter a very, very good feeling, a fantastic self-image, and most importantly a strong desire to keep learning, advance and achieve.
Jewish Family Services Alexander Institute for Inclusion (Houston, Texas USA)– The JFS Alexander Institute for Inclusion is a Houston based initiative dedicated to engaging local communities in vital discussions on how to meaningfully include people with disabilities and reduce related stigmas. The Institute develops the leadership skills of key players whose awareness of inclusion brings the conversation (and ultimately action) to the forefront of their work, academic, or communal environments. In its efforts to increase awareness across the board, the Institute uses arts and education programs to change perception and trains leaders to challenge organizations to embrace inclusion in a proactive way.
The founder of the JFS Alexander Institute, Joan Alexander, described Jay Ruderman, the president of the Ruderman Foundation, as “one of the most influential leaders at the forefront of raising awareness about the inclusion of people with disabilities. Stanford and I have so much respect for the game-changing work of The Ruderman Family Foundation and their passionate commitment to ensure that all people with disabilities are included in the Jewish community, here, in Israel and worldwide.”
The Jewish Community Center of the Greater St. Paul Area (St. Paul, Minnesota USA)– The goal of the St. Paul JCC’s Inclusion and Accessibility Services Program is to provide children, teens and adults with physical, cognitive and developmental disabilities the opportunity to be welcomed and fully participate in any and all programs offered by the JCC. The staff works with participants who need extra support and accommodations in numerous programs including: theater, swimming lessons, personal training, fitness programs and more. For the last thirty years, the JCC has been fully committed to inclusive programming.
Jewish Vocational Service of Toronto (Toronto, Canada)– JVS Toronto helps people succeed by providing outstanding employment, social and educational services which meet the changing needs of the Jewish community. JVS offers specialized programming for populations with Learning Disabilities, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Developmental Disabilities and Mental and Physical Health challenges. helping them find and maintain employment. This year marks the 50th anniversary of JVS’ delivery of psychological services in Toronto Jewish Day Schools, supporting the schools in understanding, effectively teaching and providing a Jewish education to all children, including those with special education needs.
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email: Lori@JewishPressOnline.com
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