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Community Consultation Information

Meredith Polsky
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Mission: We guide, train, and support Jewish community leaders and educators to provide purposeful, enriching, and inclusive opportunities for people with disabilities and their families.

Community Consultations: Matan has seen communities gain significant “inclusion traction” through fee-for-service community consultations. In this model, Matan partners with local Federations to offer a comprehensive needs assessment as it pertains to the inclusion of people with disabilities (and their families) in Jewish life. In order to understand the inner workings of a particular community, as well as its priorities, local expertise, resources and current barriers, Matan professionals conduct multi-day (in person or virtual) fact-finding meetings with local professionals, lay leadership, families and individuals with disabilities.

As a result of these consultations, and the subsequent report of recommendations, Matan’s vision is that Jewish communities will have the ability to support anyone who wishes to participate in Jewish communal offerings at any stage of their life (infancy through elderly). Matan’s report helps ignite the community’s deep inclusion journey of 5-7 years that will result in greater collaboration between agencies, clarity amongst community members, shared professional development goals and a common language with which to approach successful inclusion. 

The Process: Matan assesses the existing inclusion efforts at the various organizations and institutions that make up the community. Matan’s discovery process specifically focuses on  (but is not limited to) the following considerations:

  • greatest challenges and barriers that each organization faces vis a vis successful inclusion
  • local experts in special education and related fields, both in an out of Jewish community
  • inclusion training requirements at various organizations – schools, centralized Jewish agencies, etc.
  • lines of communication within organizations, and the extent to which inclusion efforts happen in “silos”
  • involvement of local clergy 
  • extent to which inclusion is on the community agenda (topic at board meetings, etc.)
  • whether or not accessibility concerns are effectively addressed when planning communal events

Matan works to understand the full community inclusion landscape both qualitatively and quantitatively, making recommendations that are specific to individual organizations and the community as a whole. With this approach, Matan aims to help the entire community coordinate efforts in order to move inclusion forward in ways that are effective, efficient, and speak to the unique needs of the specific community.

The Roadmap: At the conclusion of 30-50 hours of informational meetings and interviews (depending on the size of the community), Matan’s final report consists of a 5-7 year roadmap of recommendations related to: personnel, training, inter- and intra-agency communication, building community awareness, and planning and allocations. Within each of these categories, Matan proposes a menu of options that include no-cost, low-cost and higher-investment/longer-term possibilities from organizational structural changes and community events, to teacher training and leadership development. This roadmap is then utilized by community leaders to establish their short- and long-term efforts towards a more fully inclusive Jewish community.

520 Eighth Avenue, 15th Floor • New York, NY 10018 • 866.410.5600 • •
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