Meet the New Special Needs Peer Network Director

By Jay Ruderman

We want to welcome Ruthie Rotenberg who, as the new Director of Peer Networks for the Jewish Funders Network, is stepping into a key position for advancing disabilities awareness in the Jewish community.

As the Special Needs Peer Network gathers speed, Ruthie will be coordinating our efforts at bringing together funders with a shared vision: inclusion of those with disabilities in the heart of the Jewish community and Jewish future.

A Baltimore native, Ruthie comes to the JFN well prepared: With a master’s degree in Special Education from Hunter College and another in Public Policy (concentrating in Nonprofit Management) from Columbia, she recently returned from her year as a Jerusalem Fellow at the Mandel Leadership Institute in Jerusalem ready to put the concepts she learned about organizing in the Jewish community to good use.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the funders, and for me personally to be change-makers,” Ruthie told us recently.  Having worked with children with special needs for many years, beginning in high school, she is determined to “make the SNPN a strong funder network for learning from – and inspiring– each other. If we do this right, working together we can move the issue of people with disabilities to the top of the Jewish agenda.”

Many of you who are funders met Ruthie and heard about her work in jump-starting the SNPN agenda at ADVANCE: The Ruderman Special Needs Funding Conference on December 6.  “With funders gathering from around the country, a strong group of presenters and a series of round tables where people learned from each other, attendees emerged as more confident funders and advocates for this important issue in the Jewish community,” she says. ” The Network and the conference both send a powerful message that people with disabilities are part of our family, and we need to include them every step of the way.”

— Jay Ruderman



Filed under Disabilities Trends, Philanthropy trends, Uncategorized

2 responses to “Meet the New Special Needs Peer Network Director

  1. Jay,
    What wonderful news! Being on the agency side of the equation, I can tell you that having an additional advocate for special needs is exciting and gratifying.

    Debi Golden, Director of Development
    Gateways: Access to Jewish Education

  2. Mr. Ruderman, I wanted to express how appreciative I am of all the groundbreaking initiatives you have supported which will create a more inclusive Jewish community. It has also been our mission for a long time at Jewish Community High School of Gratz College to include teens with special needs into our supplementary high school and its educational and service learning programs. If you are ever in Philadelphia I would love to share our history of Israel trips for young adults with special needs (1997 and 2000), group B’nei Mitzvot/Confirmation Ceremonies for them(1996,1999,2002) and other highlights of growth which took place as a result of a 3-year Covenant Grant in 1992/93 as well as Federation and the generosity of several family foundations. I would like to share with you after having to end a program this week, that we did for Elwyn residents for over 20 years (creating an extended family with our teens in a service learning program so that they could learn about their Jewish heritage and celebrate holidays) because of lack of funding, to think about sustaining those self-contained programs at facilities such as Elwyn that otherwise will leave members of our Jewish community with no connection to the outside Jewish community. It is nice to have new initiatives and I am working on some at the present time, but we need to also be careful to sustain those programs that might be underfunded and not as “exciting” to funders, but still are worthy of out attention and committment. Thanks for “listening”.
    Andi Oxman

    Director, Special Needs Programs, Jewish Community High School of Gratz College
    Director, Office of Disability Services, Gratz College

    7605 Old York Road
    Melrose Park, PA 19027
    215.635.7300 x 222

    Partnering with The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia

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