‘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...]

Reverse Birthright: Pioneering Academic Program takes Israelis on U.S. Adventure

Students of the University of Haifa's Ruderman Program for American Jewish Studies visit Ellis Island last month as part of their 10-day U.S. trip; Photo courtesy Gur Alroey.

by Jeffrey F. Barken JNS.org Gur Alroey, chair of the School of History at the University of Haifa and director of the Israeli school’s pioneering Ruderman Program for American Jewish Studies, has likened a 10-day United States trip for the program’s students to “Reverse Taglit,” referring to the free Taglit-Birthright trips of the same length that bring diaspora Jews to Israel. Last month, the Ruderman Program’s inaugural class of 21 graduate students took part in that immersive U.S. journey, attending lectures, meeting community leaders, and touring historical and religious sites that reflect the American Jewish experience. “The focus is American Jewry, to examine this community as a group that stands in its own right, independent of Israel,” Alroey tells JNS.org. In August 2013, … [Read more...]

Ruderman Family Foundation Announces $250,000 Global Innovators in Inclusion Competition

Prize in inclusion logo

The Ruderman Family Foundation today announced the launch of the third annual Ruderman Prize in Inclusion global competition. The Prize recognizes organizations who have demonstrated their commitment to the full inclusion of people with disabilities into the Jewish community through innovative programs and services. The $250,000 prize will be split equally by five organizations. “Our foundation is seeking to recognize and award excellence in the inclusion of people with disabilities in our Jewish community around the globe,” said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “It is our hope that by shining a light on the leaders in inclusion in our community that we will encourage other organizations to follow their lead and effectuate lasting change. We believe that a more inclusive … [Read more...]

Jerusalem Conference Seeks Self-Empowerment of People with Disabilities

by Josh Hasten JNS.org Wheelchair-bound Yoav Kreim - a well-known leader and spokesperson for people with disabilities in Israel for more than 20 years - has led demonstrations, lobbied members of Knesset to pass legislation, and helped shape public opinion. Therefore, it was no surprise that Kreim was one of the lead participants and facilitators at the recent 2nd annual Israel Self-Advocacy Conference in Jerusalem. “There is a great need to allow weaker voices in the population to be heard,” Kreim said. “People have a lot to say; they just need to be given the chance.” Israel Elwyn and Beit Issie Shapiro, two leading organizations in Israel for providing disability services and advocating for disability rights, were behind the late-January conference for people with developmental and … [Read more...]

@URJ Biennial, Jay Ruderman: “Disabilities Is a Civil Rights Issue”

by Robert Evans and Avrum Lapin In the weeks since the mid-December 2013 Biennial of the Reform Movement, there’s been plenty of discussion about how synagogues can develop new, more effective methods to make themselves more welcoming and accepting. At the same time, finding new and/or different approaches to attracting more households to affiliated congregations are (hopefully) uppermost in the minds of leaders and have become a major focus of congregational board room discussions. Yet, surprisingly to us, fundraising, which not only brings in critical financial support but is also a strong tool for building connections and love of Judaism, received less attention at the convention than it deserved. Our observation about the full and extensive programming at the Biennial, one of the largest … [Read more...]