Cause for Celebration

This letter, written by Matan Executive Director Dori Frumin Kirshner, appeared in the Washington Jewish Week on June 16, 2010.

“The news of the planned collaboration between Yeshiva University, the Jewish Theological Seminary and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute for Religion vis-a-vis Jewish teacher recruiting and training, thanks to the $33 million gift from the Jim Joseph Foundation, is indeed cause for celebration (“Grant pushes historic partnership of seminaries,” WJW, June 3).

This is a significant, timely statement acknowledging that the value of a Jewish education transcends denominational lines. I have full faith that the three institutions’ efforts will yield results that will positively impact the Jewish community for decades to come.

It is my hope that when these esteemed institutions delineate their priorities, there will be a focus on empowering teachers to include all learners. We, as a community, are still slow to act on the commandment that it is our responsibility to ensure that every child, regardless of ability, has full and complete access to Jewish education and participation in Jewish life.

We live in a Jewish community where too many children and families feel marginalized from the beauty and vibrancy of Jewish life. There are too many stories of exclusion, rejection and intolerance. It is time to take action so that the Jewish community not only tolerates, not only makes accommodations, but includes all Jews. I hope that as these professional schools begin to design individual and collective syllabi and multiple courses, a professional track dedicated to teaching children with learning differences also will be implemented.

Most important, I hope that these schools will partner with organizations that are entrenched in this meaningful work — we do not want to envision a Jewish community with professional teachers who do not, cannot or will not include all of our children.

DORI FRUMIN KIRSHNER

White Plains, N.Y.