February 15, 2011
Why is Jewish Disability Awareness Month (JDAM) so important? The celebration, now in its third year in communities across North America, not only lets everyone in on the wide variety of services available to people with disabilities and their families (too often a well-kept secret) but, just as important, JDAM raises awareness about this underserved 20 percent of our children and families.
Here in Greater Boston, when you read over the Jewish Community Resources for People with Disabilities you’ll be amazed at how much we already have in place in our community.
And when you meet Marie (This month’s “Voice from the Gates”), you’ll get a glimmer of what, working together, our communal resources can mean to families who have a member with special needs.
This month also saw a very exciting announcement: the foundation of a new Special Needs and Disabilities Network charged with elevating special needs services and disabilities advocacy among Jewish communities around the globe.
Slated to be housed at the Jewish Funders Network, the new initiative is charged with assessing the current state of funding of special needs programs in the Jewish community, identifying successes that can be duplicated on a larger scale, and bringing attention to underserved areas that would benefit from additional funding.
Here at Gateways, we’re delighted that our long-time partners Jay Ruderman and Sharon Shapiro of the Ruderman Family Foundation are the catalysts behind the new network. It grew out of last October’s ADVANCE conference which brought new awareness of the role of special needs advocacy and services within the Jewish world. ADVANCE, which gathered together more than 100 key Jewish funders, was convened by the Ruderman Family Foundation, along with JFN, Jewish Federations of North America and our own Combined Jewish Philanthropies.
We’re also proud of the other Gateways advocates, partners and board members involved in the new network, including Gateways board member and Vice President of Development Rachel and Larry Chafetz and the Rita J. & Stanley H. Kaplan Family Foundation, visionary early funders of our innovative Mitzvah Mensches and B’nei Mitzvah training programs.
As JDAM, this month is a priceless opportunity to engage our synagogues, our schools, our agencies, our children and ourselves in welcoming and serving this important part of the Jewish people.
Even so, for our families and our agencies, and strong supporters like CJP and the Ruderman Family Foundation (See Jay’s powerful op-ed), all 12 months – actually, 13 in the Hebrew calendar this year -- are Jewish Disability Awareness Months too.
Category: Reflections & Perspectives
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