The Nativ College Leadership Program is launching a new track on Nativ called “Yozma.” Yozma will be an inclusion track for college-bound Jewish young adults, aged 18-21, with mild cognitive and social challenges.
The concept of inclusion seems important to most people. On a gut level, most people would agree strongly that “it’s the right thing to do.” With that said, are we ready to change our behavior to ensure inclusion can be a reality?
My son, a high functioning child with autism, did not speak until he was four and is only now, in 7th grade, learning to read independently. Yet he chanted from the Torah, recited the Sh’ma, helped lead the service, and delivered a D’var Torah that was unique in several important ways. He was thrilled, and so were we.
How can you make your child’s celebration equally memorable?
1). Know your child and make accommodations accordingly. Do not hesitate to ask your rabbi to work with you on this. If your child is outgoing as our son is, and can handle a lot of guests, fine. If she is fearful of crowds or has performance anxiety, keep it intimate.
The Shireinu program was started in June 2008 when Dr. Nancy Crown mentioned to Rabbi Levine’s wife that she felt her daughter with special needs did not fit in at Rodeph Sholom and therefore could only attend services on the high holidays.
On a recent visit to a Pikud HaOref, Home Front Command base in Ramle, 14 miles southeast of Tel Aviv, a soldier tells me a very animated story about his role in Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s military operation in Gaza: “My job was to copy the papers for our soldiers to drop from planes over Gaza this summer!” The soldier, in uniform with his bright orange beret on his shoulder, happens to have Down Syndrome.
He is very excited about his job in the base print shop. Another soldier with a visible disability proudly recounts the visit to the base the previous day by IDF Chief of Staff, Benny Ganz. “We saluted him and gave him a present — olive oil that we made on the base!”
Twenty five other soldiers with disabilities perform similarly important jobs each day on the base. If Tiran Attia and other visionaries have their way, Tzahal, or the IDF (Israel Defense Forces), may become a “game changer” in Israel for inclusion and for shaping attitudes about people with disabilities.
The Jewish Week Media Group, in partnership with the Ruderman Family Foundation, is proud to announce an innovative competition highlighting North American for profit businesses with exemplary practices in hiring, training and supporting people with disabilities.
Those selected will be recognized with a Ruderman “Best in Business Award” and featured in a June 19 supplement to The Jewish Week, which will be posted on The Jewish Week’s website and distributed in New York and Los Angeles.
“The surest path to full inclusion in our society comes from meaningful employment” said Jay Ruderman, the foundation’s president.