In an effort to bolster inclusion for people with disabilities throughout the Jewish world, the Israel-Boston-based Ruderman Family Foundation announced Tuesday the winners of its inaugural Ruderman Prize in Disability.

Recognizing 10 non-profit organizations in Israel, the US, the UK, Russia and even Mexico, foundation president Jay Ruderman said that the winners “offer a vision of a world with full inclusion, where people with disabilities have the same opportunities for employment, education, religion, and enjoyment of their communities as those without disabilities.”

Each organization – four of which are from Israel – will receive a grant of $20,000 to continue its work in developing programs that enable people with disabilities to participate in the mainstream, said Ruderman, adding that the grants “will nourish and nurture that vision.”

He said the foundation, which has pioneered efforts to encourage the organized Jewish community worldwide to include children and adults with disabilities in all their activities, was overwhelmed by the high number of applications it had received for the prize, and highlighted that it had been difficult to select the winners.

“In this first year of the Ruderman Prize in Disability, we are tremendously encouraged by the high number of candidates from among so many outstanding organizations and the fine record of achievement they each represent,” he said.

“We are convinced that this annual award will serve to support and encourage new opportunities for individuals with disabilities and to expand horizons,” he added. “Full inclusion for all people with disabilities is a priority of our foundation, and we will continue to find creative ways to promote and sustain this effort.”

In Israel, the winners were AKIM, the National Association for Children and Adults with Intellectual Disabilities, whose program allowing people with developmental disabilities to serve in the IDF received special notice; the Reishit School on Kibbutz Rosh Tzurim, which is the only school in the country that fully includes students with disabilities in a regular school setting; Shalva, the Association for Mentally and Physically Challenged Children in Israel, which will receive funding for the Special Interview Project that it runs together with Hebrew online news outlet Ynet; and the Vertigo Dance Company, whose Power of Balance program has brought together professional dancers to work with those with disabilities in developing a new, innovative language of movement.

Prize-winners in the US were the Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Boston, for its program providing mentors to adults with disabilities; the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center of San Diego for its Inclusion Program, which allows children with disabilities to participate in all of the center’s programming; and MetroWest Able in New Jersey, which has created a more inclusive environment in its synagogues for children with disabilities.

Worldwide, the Ruderman prize recognized the efforts of the Jewish Family Center Adain Lo in St. Petersburg, Russia, which Ruderman called a “model of Jewish education with pluralism”; the Mexican organization Kadima, which enables children and adults with disabilities to participate in community activities; and the UK’s Norwood Ravenswood charity, which runs many innovative projects to promote inclusion.

Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger