Innovators in Disability Services Win Ruderman Prize

Organizations in Israel, U.S.A, Russia, U.K. and Mexico Win Funding To Advance Their Work

Rehovot, Israel, June 12, 2012: The Ruderman Family Foundation announced today the 10 winners of the inaugural Ruderman Prize in Disability, which have been selected for fostering the full inclusion of people with disabilities in Jewish communities around the globe. Four of the winners are Israeli organizations.

“In this first year of the Ruderman Prize in Disability we are tremendously encouraged by the high number of candidates from among so many outstanding organizations and the fine record of achievement they each represent,” said Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “We are convinced that this annual award will serve to support and encourage new opportunities for individuals with disabilities and to expand horizons. Full inclusion for all people with disabilities is a priority of our foundation and we will continue to find creative ways to promote and sustain this effort.”

Each winning organization will receive a grant of $20,000 to continue its work. The Foundation received over 150 applications emanating from seven countries around the world.

Following are the 2012 Ruderman Prize winners:

AKIM Israel: National Association for the Habilitation of Children and Adults with Intellectual Disabilities

AKIM’s initiative enables people with developmental disabilities to serve in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in significant and productive tasks. The Israel Defense Forces and military service are among the core values of Israeli society and including persons with intellectual disabilities significantly enhances the self-confidence of people with these disabilities, contributes to a better integration into society and establishes and nurtures positive attitudes toward those with disabilities among Israeli society.

Reishit School

Reishit School in Kibbutz Rosh Tzurim is the only school in Israel which fully includes students with disabilities within a regular school setting. Reishit’s “Promoting Inclusion through Environmental Awareness Activities” program includes all students as they interact with one another via experiential, hands-on activities that promote environmental awareness and an appreciation of the natural environment.

Jewish Family Center “Adain Lo”

Jewish Family Center “Adain Lo,” in St. Petersburg, Russia is among the largest provider of Jewish programs for children and families in St. Petersburg. The center’s model of Jewish education with pluralism, a holistic approach to the family, creativity, independence and self-sufficiency is being studied by organizations in Israel and the US. The Center was among the first organizations in Russia to hire people with disabilities and is a vocal advocate on this topic.


Kadima, the Hebrew word for “forward”, is a forward-thinking organization located in the Huixquilucan municipality in Mexico. Kadima’s objective is the inclusion and active participation of children and adults with disabilities in education, employment, family life, society and in community. The award is for Kadima’s Hagamos Juntos Kadima Inclusion program, which has a strong record of effectiveness in fostering inclusion within the Jewish Community of Mexico. They have a proud record in employment: 28% of their adult members have a regular job and 100% of their employers are companies or institutions within the Jewish community in Mexico.

Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Boston

Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters (JBBBS) of Greater Boston, founded in 1919, is New England’s oldest youth mentoring organization. JBBBS received an award for its programs for those with disabilities, including Friend 2 Friend – a program that provides a Big Brother or Big Sister to an adult with a disability, allowing that individual to have a mentor and friend with whom they can enjoy their community.

Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center of San Diego

The Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center has received an award for its Inclusion Program, launched in 1995, which enables children with disabilities to participate in all programming, creating an awareness and education for all children regarding the importance of diversity and encouraging feelings of self-respect, confidence, acceptance and community.

MetroWest ABLE (New Jersey)

MetroWest ABLE’s winning program is Kehilla Shlema, a successful initiative to create a more inclusive and welcome environment in synagogues for children with disabilities. Early work has included the creation of a committee of rabbis, congregational leaders, and professionals to identify the elements required to make congregations more welcoming and inclusive.

Norwood Ravenswood

Established in 1795, Norwood Ravenswood is the United Kingdom’s leading Jewish philanthropy. It provides individual, person-centered services and support to over 7,000 children and adults with disabilities. The organization is continually innovating with projects that promote inclusion, working with individuals to improve the quality of their lives and to achieve their goals. Transitioning individuals to work has been a major and successful focus of Norwood Ravenswood.

SHALVA: The Association for the Mentally & Physically Challenged Children in Israel

SHALVA will receive a Ruderman Prize for its Special Interview Project in which, as explained in its award application, “YNet (Israel’s largest electronic news and information source) and SHALVA recently joined forces to provide the public with a series of high profile, attitude-altering interviews of famous people,” conducted by two adults with disabilities.

Vertigo Dance Company

The internationally acclaimed Vertigo Dance Company of Israel will receive the award for The Power of Balance, a program in which professional dancers work with those with disabilities to develop “new, innovative language of movement.” The organization states that the program has been an effective tool in fighting against discrimination, stereotypes and prejudices that have limited the inclusion of those with disabilities into society.

“These ten award winners offer a vision of a world with full inclusion, where people with disabilities have the same opportunities for employment, education, religion, and enjoyment of their communities as those without disabilities,” said Jay Ruderman. “These grants will nourish and nurture that vision.”

The mission of the Ruderman Family Foundation is two-fold: Promoting the full inclusion of individuals with disabilities in the Jewish community through meaningful programs and public awareness and in fostering cooperation and a stronger relationship between Israel and the U.S. Jewish community.