Ruderman Family Foundation, JDC and Israeli Government Expand Disabilities Partnership

$12.5 Million Expansion Enables New Growth in Inclusion Programming
and Focus on Employment for Israelis with Disabilities

Jerusalem, January 7, 2012 – The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the Ruderman Family Foundation and the Government of Israel announced today a significant $12.5 million expansion of their Israel Unlimited Partnership for Israeli adults with disabilities as a result of a new $4 million lead grant from the Ruderman Family Foundation. The grant will further expand the Partnership’s work in inclusion, ensure a focus on employment (a key challenge in this community), and will be matched by JDC and the Israeli government. Founded in 2009, Israel Unlimited has reached tens of thousands of Israelis with disabilities to date and is dedicated to the inclusion of people with disabilities by empowering them to advocate on their own behalf and live independently, and by highlighting their integral role as Israeli citizens.

In the past three years, Israel Unlimited – which was launched through an initial $6 million from the partners – has expanded services for Israelis with significant disabilities, including those who are homebound, through localized increases in services, including transportation and home care. It has focused on programs for Israeli Arabs and immigrants with disabilities and initiatives to prevent violence against people with disabilities by family or caregivers. Additionally, it launched a public program for Israelis with and without disabilities to collaborate on street performances and other events that demonstrate the challenges and positive contribution of people with disabilities.

“We want Israel to be second to none in its inclusion of people with disabilities throughout society. Our strategic effort has enabled the implementation of nation-wide change through innovative programs that ensure, above all, that people with disabilities are full members of Israel’s national tapestry,” said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “As we move into our next phase, we will build on our past successes and further promote the notion that people with disabilities are people with abilities.”

In the next stage, the partners will focus on employment for people with disabilities through JDC and the Government of Israel’s Tevet employment initiative; ensuring accessible housing and services that promote independent living; expanding person-centered services and focusing on new groups like Haredim with disabilities; and developing projects that help adults with disabilities cope with loneliness. Additionally, new public awareness campaigns about people with disabilities will reinforce the overall message of inclusivity and acceptance.

Israel is home to nearly one million adults with disabilities, with nearly 20 percent having moderate to severe disabilities. More than 260,000 of those Israeli adults with disabilities are entitled to social security and the numbers are growing rapidly. At the same time, only 52 percent of people with disabilities in Israel are employed, compared with 74 percent of the general population. And people with disabilities earn nearly 2,200 NIS less than the general population. Additionally, 40 percent of parents with disabilities have children under the age of 18, making the services provided by Israel Unlimited invaluable.