Harvard professor receives award for inclusion of people with disabilities in Jewish world

Ruderman Family Foundation announces Dr. Michael Stein as first recipient of inaugural $100,000 award.

wheelchair travel 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
wheelchair travel 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Ruderman Family Foundation (RFF) announced on Monday the first recipient of the inaugural Morton E. Ruderman Award in Inclusion to be Dr. Michael Stein, visiting professor at Harvard Law School.
The $100,000 award, based on past achievements and the potential for future contributions to the field, recognizes an individual who has made an extraordinary contribution to the inclusion of people with disabilities to the Jewish world and the greater public.
“Inspiring leaders can strengthen an entire community, by valuing each person’s contributions. My father was one such leader. Now the Morton E. Ruderman Award in Inclusion honors his legacy, by celebrating one outstanding leader whose lifetime achievements inspire others towards greater inclusion,” said Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation.
A three-person nominating committee identified a highly selective pool of candidates, and the RFF trustees made the final selection.
“I am deeply honored to receive the inaugural Morton E. Ruderman Award for Inclusion and will work very hard to uphold the values expressed by Mr. Ruderman, the Ruderman family and the foundation,” said Stein.
Stein is cofounder and executive director of the Harvard Law School Project on Disability (HPOD) and an internationally recognized expert on disability rights.
Stein participated in the drafting of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and actively consults governments on their disability laws and policies.
“HPOD has been privileged to serve people with disabilities and their representative organizations in some forty countries, and I have been personally inspired, humbled, and energized by working with these advocates,” said Stein.
Stein has also acted as legal counsel to Rehabilitation International, Disabled Peoples’ International and to Special Olympics International.
He works with organizations fighting for disability rights around the world and advises a number of United Nations bodies, such as UNDESA, UNICEF and UNOHCHR, as well as individual national human rights institutions.
“Michael Stein’s work in disability law has been truly groundbreaking,” said Martha Minow, Dean of Harvard Law School. “Since cofounding HOPD as a global disability and policy center, he has influenced agencies and governments around the world, including the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that recently relied extensively on his arguments, in a landmark decision on the voting rights of persons with intellectual disabilities. He is thoroughly deserving of this recognition.”
The inaugural award was named after Morton E. Ruderman, a founder of the Ruderman Family Foundation, successful entrepreneur, mentor and family man.
He saw his success as the result of help he received from others. The work of the foundation addresses his view that the exclusion of persons with disabilities and their absence from Jewish life is fundamentally unfair.
The primary consideration for the award is whether the recipient’s work has made life more equitable for people with disabilities.
“Our foundation decided to establish an award in my father’s name to remember his values and work, which have touched so many lives,” said Ruderman.
“Those who knew my father agree that what drove his interest in disability inclusion was a bedrock commitment to fairness: he fervently believed that people with disabilities were not getting a fair shake in the Jewish community or in society at large.
“It was his belief, that everyone deserves to be treated fairly, which has inspired our mission to work toward the full inclusion of people with disabilities in our community.
“We are honored to name Michael Stein as the first recipient of the Morton E. Ruderman Award because his life’s work encompasses the values my father believed in. I know that my father would have liked him.”
The award joins other signature programs of the foundation, which believe that inclusion and understanding of all people is essential to a fair and flourishing community.
The RFF provides funding, leadership and expertise in both the US and Israel, in core areas of interest – advocating for and advancing the inclusion of people with disabilities throughout the Jewish community, fostering a more nuanced understanding of the American Jewish community among Israeli leaders and modeling the practice of strategic philanthropy worldwide.