As February Ends…

Although Jewish Disability Awareness Month got an extra day thanks the the leap year, we can all agree that 29 days is still not enough time to explore inclusion in the Jewish community.  That’s why Matan focuses on it for all 365 days of every year.  Still, we love February.  Our work seems to take on a new urgency, we discover books, people, events and blogs that we were not aware of before, and we have the opportunity to showcase more of Matan’s work.  February 2012 seemed to be the most effective Jewish Disability Awareness Month yet – and we give credit and thanks to everyone who played a role in that.

Now we must look beyond February and not forget the urgency of including everyone in the fabric of Jewish life.  At Matan, this begins immediately with our first ever Matan Institute coming up on March 11.  Twenty-two Education Directors will have the opportunity to impact their 3,500+ students. We have designed a high quality program that includes concrete tools for differentiated instruction, individualized religious education plans, assessment tools, goal setting and community planning.  The Institute will provide accounts from individuals with disabilities who have grown up in the Jewish community, and discussions with experts on topics such as executive dysfunction, attention deficit and behavior management.  Ultimately, Matan aims to transform the Jewish community’s ability to include all learners in synagogue settings.

We congratulate and commend the following individuals who are beginning this journey with us in just a couple of weeks:

Irene Bolton, Temple Beth Or, Township of Washington, NJ
Sarah Brokman, Park Avenue Synagogue, New York, NY
Melissa Cohavi, Temple Sinai, Stamford, CT
Lena Eson-Roe, Congregation Beth Elohim, Brooklyn, NY
Froma Fallik, Congregation Bonai Shalom, Boulder, CO
Charlotte Frank, Adath Shalom, Morris Plains, NJ
Cantor Michelle Freedman, Montebello Jewish Center, Montebello, NY
Arielle Garellek, Central Synagogue, New York, NY
David Gronlund-Jacob, Temple Emanu-El, Westfield, NJ
Marcia Kagedan, JCC of Paramus, Paramus, NJ
Rabbi Shelley Kniaz, Temple Emanuel , Woodcliff Lake, NJ
Talia Kushnick, Congregation Shaare Zedek, New York, NY
Lynn Lancaster, Forest Hills Jewish Center, Forest Hills, NY
Flora Oynick, Temple Beth Sholom Schools, Sarasota, FL
Gena Rosenzweig, Temple Judea, Coral Gables, FL
Rabbi Eve Rudin, Park Avenue Synagogue, New York, NY
Judy Van Der Stelt, Congregation Rodeph Sholom, Tampa, FL
Jen Vegh, Beth El Synagogue Center, New Rochelle, NY
Gila Hadani Ward, Temple Beth Sholom, Roslyn Heights, NY
Jenn Weinstein, Congregation Simchat HaLev, Syosset, NY
Ira Wise, Congregation B’nai Israel, Bridgeport, CT
Olga Zelzburg, Temple Beth-El , Ithaca, NY