Jewish philanthropists help people with disabilities

13 charitable foundations unite for new initiative aimed at improving the treatment of people with disabilities in the Jewish community.

wheelchair 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post))
wheelchair 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post))
A new initiative aimed at uniting philanthropic efforts to improve the treatment of people with disabilities in the Jewish community and to raise awareness of their needs was announced Friday by the Jewish Funders Network (JFN), an international umbrella organization for Jewish philanthropy.
Some 13 Jewish foundations, including the Ted Arison Family Foundation in Israel, the Jewish Federations of North America, the UK based Pears Foundation, the Ruderman Family Foundation and the Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, have already committed to the new organization, which will research and advocate change for Jewish people and children with special needs and disabilities.
“With some 14 percent of the Jewish community is identified as having special needs or disabilities, there is a growing call to elevate special-needs advocacy to the forefront of the Jewish communal agenda,” commented Murray Galinson, JFN’s chairman, adding “JFN is delighted to join with an elite group of philanthropists and foundations to answer the call.”
The initiative is the logical progression of ADVANCE, a first-of-its-kind conference aimed at propelling the issue of special needs and people with disabilities to the forefront of the Jewish community agenda.
Held in New York last October, the one-day symposium was a joint effort of the JFN, the Israel and Bostonbased Ruderman Family Foundation, Jewish Federations of North America and Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston “It is extremely gratifying to see how the ADVANCE conference has catalyzed the funding community around special needs issues,” said Jay Ruderman, president of his family’s foundation.
He added: “There is no question that a consensus is forming to elevate the whole discussion of special needs programming within the Jewish community, including finding ways to more fully integrate disabled and special needs individuals and families more fully into Jewish communal life.”
While the JFN has yet to appoint a director to run the new initiative, it did indicate that the program’s goal would be to provide assessment on the current state of funding of special needs programs in the Jewish community, identify successes that can be duplicated on a larger scale, and bring attention to underserved areas that would benefit from additional funding.
Among the other Jewish foundations that have already committed to supporting this program are the Texas-based Stanford and Joan Alexander Foundation, the J.E. & Z.B. Butler Foundation from New York; Rachel & Larry Chafetz, Massachusetts; New Jersey’s Karma Foundation; the Rita J. & Stanley H.
Kaplan Family Foundation, New York; News Corporation Foundation, New York; and the Saul Schottenstein Foundation B, Ohio.