Morton E. Ruderman Award in Inclusion Announced

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In continuing its commitment to advocating for the full inclusion of people with disabilities into society, the Ruderman Family Foundation (RFF) has announced it will award the second annual Morton E. Ruderman Award in Inclusion to Ari Ne’eman, President of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and Member of the President’s National Council on Disability. The $100,000 award recognizes an individual who has made an extraordinary contribution to the inclusion of people with disabilities in the Jewish world and the greater public and is based on past achievements and the potential for future contributions to the field. “As a person with autism, Ari Ne’eman serves as an inspiration to millions of people with disabilities around the world,” said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family … [Read more...]

With $1m Gift, Ruderman and Chabad Aim to Create Culture of Inclusion

With a grant of $1 million, the Ruderman Family Foundation (RFF) has established a partnership with Chabad-Lubavitch in order to create a culture of inclusion for people with disabilities within some 4,200 Jewish communities worldwide. This partnership was developed to promote a marked difference in the real-life experience of people with disabilities by changing attitudes within Jewish communities from “doing for” to “working with” people with disabilities. Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation, a passionate advocate of inclusion, says that the decision to partner with Chabad was clear: “With emissaries in virtually every Jewish community across the globe, Chabad represents one of the most extensive and influential outreach efforts in the Jewish world," he says. "We … [Read more...]

Disability Self-Advocates Envision a More Inclusive Jewish Community

Attendees of the Ruderman Family Foundation's first conference for Jewish disability self-adovcates on Dec. 17 in New York City. Photo courtesy Ruderman Family Foundation.

By Jeffrey F. Barken JNS.org What if Moses never accepted the task to lead the Jews out of Egypt because of his speech impediment? Award-winning author Chava Willig Levy, a polio survivor, uses the episode to illustrate what she calls a clear biblical precedent that people with disabilities have enormous potential to impact society. “When God said to Moses, ‘I’m tapping you to lead my people out of Egypt,’ Moses [countered], ‘No, you’ve got the wrong guy. I’m disabled myself,’” Levy tells JNS.org. But God gets angry at Moses for doubting himself, and asks, “Whom do you think gave you that mouth?” Levy’s anecdote introduces a concept that frames an ongoing Jewish communal discussion on the inclusion of people with disabilities. “There is Judaism, and then there are Jews,” she says, … [Read more...]

New Online Learning Center Launched to Enhance Inclusion of People with Disabilities in Synagogue Programs

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The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) and the Ruderman Family Foundation have launched the URJ Ruderman Disabilities Inclusion Learning Center, an innovative and interactive online resource center. A key element of the far-reaching URJ Ruderman Synagogue Inclusion Initiative, this pioneering learning site, open to all, offers visitors the information and strategies to develop truly inclusive congregations where everyone can fully participate in and contribute to Jewish communal life and learning. An equally important goal of the site is to decrease the stigma and misconceptions surrounding disabilities. The resource center includes dozens of practical, skill-building webinars and print resources created by leading disabilities-inclusion experts including: Shelly Christensen, founder of … [Read more...]

‘Let’s Build a More Inclusive Community’: Jay Ruderman’s Call to Action

By Jacob Kamaras JNS.org The Ruderman Family Foundation is known for its work to advance the inclusion of people with disabilities, but at the 2014 General Assembly (GA) of the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), the foundation’s president used the concept of inclusion to issue a broader challenge to the Jewish community. “I think that we look at people and we label them very quickly,” Jay Ruderman told me Nov. 11 on the stage of the GA’s “press pit,” a section of the exhibition hall where conference attendees got the chance to listen to journalists interview various Jewish leaders. “[We’ll say] ‘You’re in a wheelchair,’ or ‘you’re a different color,’ or ‘you have a different orientation.’ And that’s not what we should be about. We should be about saying, ‘Okay. You’re Jewish. You … [Read more...]

Disability Should Not Be Used As An Insult

The Ruderman Family Foundation responded to the derogatory use of Asperger Syndrome by an unnamed Obama Administration official in an article released yesterday. “In his article in The Atlantic, ‘The Crisis in U.S.-Israel Relations is Officially Here,’ Jeffrey Goldberg quotes an unnamed source in the Obama administration who refers to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu as "Aspergery." While it is perfectly acceptable for people to be critical of each other, it is unacceptable to use a term of disability in a derogatory manner,” said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “The term "Aspergery" was used in a manner that is insulting to the millions of people around the world with Asperger Syndrome. It is never OK to insult someone by referring to them by using disability in a … [Read more...]

United Synagogue Receives Grant to Launch Inclusion Initiative

The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, with support from the Ruderman Family Foundation, will launch an initiative to transform Conservative congregations into truly inclusive communities for people with disabilities. Through the grant, United Synagogue will work with its affiliated kehillot to develop comprehensive visions and action plans on inclusion. The goal is to create congregations where everything - from the entryway to the bima, from education programs to prayer services, from social activities to the very attitudes of congregants and leaders - allows people with disabilities and their families to participate fully and comfortably in congregational life. “Many of our kehillot have begun to meet the need for inclusion, primarily in the architectural arena. But few have been … [Read more...]

Ruderman Family Foundation Awards $250,000 to Five Inclusion in Disability Innovators

Ruderman Inclusion

Organizations in U.S., Australia, Canada and Israel Demonstrate Excellence in Inclusion of People with Disabilities into Jewish Communities Worldwide Rehovot, Israel July 14, 2014 - The Ruderman Family Foundation announced today the five winners of the third annual Ruderman Prize in Inclusion. The Prize honors organizations worldwide who operate innovative programs and provide services that foster the full inclusion of people with disabilities in their local Jewish community. The winners are: Jewish Vocational Service of Toronto (Toronto, ON), JewishCare Big Brother Big Sister (Sydney, Australia), Bar-Ilan University (Israel), Jewish Family Services of Houston (Houston, TX) and the St. Paul Jewish Community Center (St. Paul, MN). Each winner will receive $50,000 to continue their work and pursue … [Read more...]