To mark Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion Month (#JDAIM) in February, ALEH, Israel’s network of care for children with severe complex disabilities and an international advocate for disability inclusion and equity, is launching its new ‘ALEH Bechinuch’ disability inclusion programming at seven Jewish schools in New York and South Florida.
The pilot schools, which include the Ramaz School in Manhattan and the Brauser Maimonides Academy, the Donna Klein Jewish Academy, the Sha’arei Bina Torah Academy for Girls, the Gordon School, and the upper and lower divisions of the David Posnack Jewish Day School in South Florida, will teach their students about the importance of disability inclusion, equity and access via interactive educational modules and “disability challenges” that were prepared for North American classrooms by ALEH’s special educators. ALEH hopes that its new programming will transform the students into disability advocates and bring about a change in societal attitude towards individuals with disabilities through youth leadership and community engagement.
The ALEH Bechinuch (literally “ascension through education”) curriculum was developed from ALEH’s groundbreaking ‘Tikkun Olam’ program, a year-long educational experience that exposes Israeli grade school and high school students to peers with disabilities and imparts the importance of acceptance and inclusion through lectures, workshops and hands-on volunteering opportunities. Since 2016, more than 100,000 students of all ages across Israel from mixed demographic and religious backgrounds have participated in the Tikkun Olam program, leading to a noticeable spike in youth-led volunteerism and social activism initiatives. Understanding the program’s unique ability to reach and mobilize youth, ALEH developed a modular, English-language version of the program for implementation in North American schools.
“The disability inclusion programming developed by ALEH in Israel has been tremendously successful in both educating students about disabilities and empowering them to move their communities forward, and we felt that it was our responsibility to share this exceptional program with the world,” said Elie Klein, ALEH’s Director of Development for the US and Canada, while in the US to address the students and launch the ALEH Bechinuch programming at all seven pilot schools. “By implementing the ALEH Bechinuch modules in their classrooms during JDAIM, these schools will harness the power of education to open hearts and minds, positively impact the American Jewish community and society at large, and help make true disability inclusion a reality.”