Next week, as more than 100 funders gather in New York to consider how the community can meet the needs of some of its family members with special needs, history will ADVANCE toward a more inclusive Jewish future.


ADVANCE: The Ruderman Jewish Special Needs Funding Conference is the first of its kind: a clarion call to funders large and small to face some often difficult realities: an estimated 20 percent of all Jews have some sort of disability and, as a community, we have a tradition of looking away.


The Ruderman Family Foundation is determined to change all that, as evidenced by years of funding programming for Jewish youngsters with special needs in the US and Israel. Now it is hosting this conference to challenge other funders and professionals in the field to follow suit. Partners include such heavy hitters as The Jewish Federations of North America and Jewish Funders Network, along with Boston’s Combined Jewish Philanthropies. Included on the panel on Formal Educational Opportunities will be Alan Oliff, Director of CJP’s Initiatives for Day School Excellence and Arlene Remz, Executive Director of Gateways: Access to Jewish Education, Greater Boston’s central address for Jewish education for children with special needs.


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“The Jewish community is very concerned about continuity, but we can not afford to ignore our children with special needs,” says Ruderman Family Foundation President Jay Ruderman. “If a synagogue or a JCC or a day school or Israel program turns away a child with special needs, they’re not only rejecting that child, but turning the entire family away from Judaism. That’s not something we can afford to do to 20 percent of our families.”


To learn more about ADVANCE and the Ruderman Family Foundation’s work on behalf of Jews with special needs, visit For more about Gateways: Access to Jewish Education’s innovative programs for Jewish children with special needs, visit 

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