Recipients of Ruderman Prize in Inclusion announced

Jewish organizations leading the way in including people with disabilities in community life

Eli Cohen (far right) tells a delegation of overseas visitors about his job in Kosher Kingdom supermarket in north-west London.  (photo credit: JOHN RIFKIN)
Eli Cohen (far right) tells a delegation of overseas visitors about his job in Kosher Kingdom supermarket in north-west London.
(photo credit: JOHN RIFKIN)
Five Jewish organizations from around the world are to receive this year’s Ruderman Prize in Inclusion, awarded by the Ruderman Family Foundation to bodies that operate innovative programs and provide services that foster the full inclusion of people with disabilities in their local Jewish community. The prize winners announced on Monday are: the Yavne Institute in Montevideo, Uruguay; the Youth Ability Program at the Jewish Family Service Association of Cleveland in Ohio; Kisharon’s adult employment program in the UK; Room on the Bench in Brooklyn; and Beit Hillel in Ra’anana.
Each of the winning organizations will receive $50,000 (NIS 190,000) to continue its work and pursue new opportunities for inclusion in their communities.
“As our worldwide Jewish community begins to accept and practice the value that all Jewish people have a right to belong and participate in Jewish life, this year’s Ruderman Prize in Inclusion awardees set the standard for the rest of our community organizations to aspire to attain,” said Jay Ruderman, president of the foundation. “It is our hope that these awardees not only serve as the gold standard for disability inclusion in their communities, but for the entire Jewish community across the globe.”
The Ruderman Foundation is a non-profit organization based in Boston and Israel that promotes the values of inclusion of people with disabilities in Jewish community life. The foundation also works with Israeli leaders to promote a nuanced understanding of the American Jewish community.
The foundation chooses the prize recipients as models for inclusion that can be replicated anywhere. According to the foundation, fully inclusive programs ensure that everyone in the Jewish community can participate together in all activities, without stigma or imposed limitations.
“Having been selected for this prize is a great honor. It is also a very meaningful way to tell our team that we are on the right track,” said Javier Jasinski, Yavne’s executive president. “At Yavne, we encourage and support every student to engage in every academic activity, outdoor camps, field trips, family days, cultural events and Jewish festivities. The ultimate goal of our inclusion program is for each student to experience him or herself as an essential part of our institution and our community.”
Yavne is the only Jewish inclusive school in Uruguay, opening its doors to every family, including those with children with disabilities.
Since the prize was first announced in 2012, hundreds of organizations from almost every continent have applied and organizations from Canada, Israel, South Africa, Russia, Australia, Mexico, the US, and Argentina have been recipients.
“The young men and women who participate in the YouthAbility program spread their goodwill and joy throughout the Cleveland area to so many individuals, families and institutions with whom they make contact,” said Susan Bischel, PhD, president and CEO of the Jewish Family Service Association of Cleveland. “We are thrilled for this extraordinary group of young adults that they will be honored with the esteemed Ruderman Prize in Inclusion.”
The Horvitz YouthAbility Program of JFSA Cleveland serves at-risk and youth with disabilities, aged 16 – 26, by engaging them in volunteer service, vocational activities, wellness education and social enrichment.
Kisharon’s adult employment program in the UK helps people with learning disabilities receive work experience and paid part-time jobs through creating partnerships with businesses in the local community and in the city of London.
Room on the Bench, a project of the Luria Academy of Brooklyn, works with students with disabilities and their families to create an experience that fully integrates them as members of the Jewish day school community by collaborating with the schools to create an inclusive environment