NEW YORK, N.Y. — Jewish philanthropists from the U.S., Israel, Australia and the United Kingdom will gather in New York City on Oct. 20 to tackle the issue of special needs at ADVANCE: The Ruderman Jewish Special Needs Funding Conference.
Hosted by the Ruderman Family Foundation, in partnership with the Jewish Funders Network (JFN), Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), and Boston’s Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP), the one-day conference will explore funding strategies in North America and abroad to build a more inclusive support system for Jews who are disabled or have special needs. ADVANCE is the first-ever funders conference focused entirely around this issue.
Howard Blas of New Haven, who serves as director of the Tikvoh program for children with special needs at Camp Ramah of New England, will be among the conference presenters.
“Hundreds of thousands of Jews in the U.S. with physical and/or mental disabilities must forfeit their Jewish experience because too many of our institutions – day schools, camps, vocational training centers, synagogues – are ill-equipped to accommodate special needs,” says Jay Ruderman, president of The Ruderman Family Foundation. “For a people who value fairness, inclusivity, and continuity, it’s unacceptable that so many of our own are turned away in this manner. At the ADVANCE conference, we hope to inspire collaboration in which private funders, Federations, and professionals can actively bring populations with special needs back into the fold of Jewish life.”
An estimated 14 percent of children in North America are defined as special-needs and roughly 20 percent of the U.S. population has a disability.
“The Jewish community is making great strides to address the unique needs of our disabled population members and their extended families,” says Jerry Silverman, president and CEO of Jewish Federations of North America. “In communities across the country, we’ve seen discreet examples of programs that are making a real difference. But these successes cannot remain in silos. This is a communal issue and the ADVANCE conference is an important step for mounting a communal response.”
The conference will feature several presentations and breakout sessions organized around the major categories of special needs programming: education, camping and youth programs, housing, vocational training, and engagement in Jewish life.. “Our hope is that the ADVANCE conference serves as a launch pad for collaboration in the area of special needs,” said Mark Charendoff, president of the Jewish Funders Network. “We expect to see more examples of private funders, Federations, and professionals working together to create an environment inclusive of all Jews, regardless of disability or need.”
For more information about the conference visit www.jfunders.org/advancereg; email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (212) 726-0177 x208.