The news of the planned collaboration among Yeshiva University, the Jewish Theological Seminary and Hebrew Union College, vis a vis Jewish “teacher recruiting and training” and thanks to the $33 million gift from the Jim Joseph Foundation, is indeed cause for celebration (“Historic Partnership Of Seminaries,” May 28).
This is a significant, timely statement acknowledging that the value of a Jewish education transcends denominational lines. I have full faith that the three institutions’ efforts will yield results that will positively impact the Jewish community for decades to come.
However, I am concerned that when these esteemed institutions delineated their priorities, not one mentioned a focus on empowering teachers to include all learners. We, as a community, are still slow to act on the commandment that it is our responsibility to ensure that every child, regardless of ability, has full and complete access to Jewish education and participation in Jewish life.
We live in a Jewish community where too many children and families feel marginalized from the beauty and vibrancy of Jewish life. There are too many stories of exclusion, rejection and intolerance. This was vividly demonstrated in last week’s front-page story, “Special Needs Family Fighting Day Schools.”
It is time to take action so that the Jewish community not only tolerates, not only makes accommodations, but actually includes all Jews. It is my hope that as these professional schools begin to design individual and collective syllabi, multiple courses as well as a professional track dedicated to teaching children with learning differences.
Executive Director, Matan