The Ruderman Prize Winners: A Bakery, Schools And A Shul
06/24/2013 - 13:42
Helen Chernikoff
A snapshot of B'nai Amoona's "radically inclusive" community. Photo courtesy Ruderman Family Foundation
A snapshot of B'nai Amoona's "radically inclusive" community. Photo courtesy Ruderman Family Foundation

Schools, a shul and a bakery won the second annual Ruderman Prize in Disability, which recognizes organizations who foster the inclusion of people with disabilities in their local Jewish community, the Ruderman Family Foundation announced today in a press release.

“All of this year’s winners around the globe are organizations not focused on the issue of disability but have developed innovative programs to include people with disabilities in the overall mission of their organization,” said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation, in the release. “We hope that they serve as shining examples for the rest of the Jewish world of how people with disabilities can be included in all aspects of life.”

Each winner will receive $50,000 as a prize in a content that became much more competitive between its first and second year; 50 percent more organizations – 244 of them – applied for the 2013 prize, according to the release.

“When I first accepted B'nai Amoona's invitation to serve as Senior Rabbi, I expressed a yearning that we aspire to be a "radically inclusive" Kehilla (holy community),” said Rabbi Carnie Shalom Rose of B’nai Amoona, the winning synagogue.

“That vision has guided our congregation's efforts for the last 8 years and each year we have searched for and found new and more meaningful ways to enfranchise those who, heretofore, had been marginalized. This prize is a true Bracha (blessing) as it will help us continue our sacred mission.”

The schools that won the prize are a geographically diverse group: AMIT schools in Israel educate over 1,000 children with disabilities alongside mainstream peers; the Fundacion Judaica School in Buenos Aires integrates children with disabilities into mainstream classrooms at the elementary level and in Cape Town, United Herzlia Schools have a fully-fledged inclusive program.

Sunflower Bakery provides skilled, on-the-job training, internships and employment services to individuals with developmental or other cognitive disabilities.

“We are overjoyed to be realizing the dream of preparing young adults with a range of developmental and other cognitive disabilities with marketable skills and workplace experience desired by employers in the pastry and food industries,” said Sara Portman Milner and Laurie Wexler, the bakery’s co-founders and co-directors. “Our graduates are securing and sustaining jobs of their choosing, increasing self-sufficiency and enhancing their self-esteem.”

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