The Jewish disabilities inclusion community has long served as a model of collaboration and cooperation between of various backgrounds. The recent Ruderman Inclusion Summit in Boston assembled hundreds of people from all parts of the Jewish world. And the Ramah TIkvah Network has served Jewish campers of all backgrounds since 1970. A “typical” camper may come from a Reform background, attend a Conservative Movement camp, and participate in activities sponsored by Chabad (Orthodox) or Friendship Circle.
A new course from the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute, entitled, “Toward Inclusion: Perspectives on Disability, Social Responsibility, and Belonging,” and taught by Rabbi Elie Weinstock, continues this tradition of collaboration and sharing across movements and organizations. The course, which will take place on four Tuesdays (April 5, 12, & 19, at both 1:00 pm and 7:00 pm) at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun on Manhattan’s Upper East Side (125 East 85th Street, between Lexington and Park Avenues), is a partnership between the Ruderman Chabad Inclusion Initiative, Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun (NYC), The Ramaz School (NYC), The Shefa School (NYC) and the Ramah Camping Movement.
The free course draws on a variety of sources to explore the limits of human perception, human worth and dignity, social responsibility and the importance of ethical practice, and overcoming barriers to inclusion. While each class can be taken alone, or as part of the series, the overall goal of the course is to better inform how the community relates to people of different needs in our daily interactions as well as to develop and nurture true and enduring inclusion in our communities.
According to Elie Weinstock, Rabbi of Congregation Kehillath Jeshurun, “Today, more attention is correctly being focused in opening up opportunities for everyone to fully participate in Jewish life. JLI’s Towards Inclusion course provides texts and context to explore the issues and seriously consider how to make our community more accessible to all. To offer the course as a collaboration of different groups is especially relevant. At Sinai, we all stood as one. We need to recapture that unity in working to optimize our ability to be inclusive.”
Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation adds, “In order to truly achieve social change, we need to ensure a change the attitudes and prejudices of our community through awareness and education. I am excited to see great organizations partner to bring this awareness and education to the Jewish community with Toward Inclusion: Perspectives on Disability, Social Responsibility, and Belonging.”
For more information or to register, please email JLI@ckj.org or call 212-774-5678.
Howard Blas was the director of the Tikvah Program at Camp Ramah in New England and is now director of the National Ramah Tikvah Network. Howard also serves as a teacher of Jewish Studies and bar/bat mitzvah to students with a range of disabilities and “special circumstances.” He holds masters degrees in both social work (Columbia University) and special education (Bank Street College of Education). Howard received the S’fatai Tiftakh Award from Boston Hebrew College’s Center for Jewish Special Education in 2012 and the 2013 Covenant Award for Excellence in Jewish Education. He writes regularly for many Jewish publications.