Hot on the heels of the announcement that Eric Rosenthal of Disability Rights International won the Charles Bronfman Prize, another major Jewish award is going to a disability community leader.
Howard Blas, director of the Tikvah Program at Camp Ramah in New England, is one of this year’s three winners of the Covenant Foundation’s Award for Exellence in Jewish Education.
“Howard is a transformative leader and teacher,” said Shira Arcus, coordinator of the National Ramah Special Needs Network, who nominated Blas for The Covenant Award. “He envisions people with special needs integrated into the fabric of Jewish life and does not hesitate to challenge assumptions to attain that goal. He inspires everyone in our community to see each other b’tzelem Elokim, in God’s image.”
Ramah New England’s Tikvah program is an eight-week overnight experience for 60 campers with disabilities, fully integrated within a summer camp attracting 800 children and teens.
Under Blas, the foundation says, this program has become a national model. It boasts an in-cabin inclusion program that integrates campers with disabilities in to typical bunks, an expanded vocational training program and year-round programming for Tikvah campers and their families.