Growing Inclusive Synagogues in New Jersey: MetroWest ABLE

Friends,

Each week we introduce you to one of the ten recipients of the 2012 Ruderman Prize in Disability. Today we feature MetroWest ABLE of New Jersey, which is staking out new territory in creating a rich network of inclusive synagogues for members of all abilities.

Established by United Jewish Communities of MetroWest New Jersey in 2005, MetroWest ABLE (an acronym for Access, Belonging and Life Enrichment) is a collaborative network of agencies working together to serve people with disabilities using a variety of creative approaches.

ABLE’s “Kehilla Shlema” Initiative (which means “whole and complete community”) aims for full access and participation in meaningful synagogue life through a range of program initiatives.  For example…

  • MetroWest ABLE’s Coordinator provides one-on-one information, referral, and problem-solving for family members of people with disabilities.
  • MetroWest “Madrichim” (Leadership Training Program) teaches teenagers to serve as shadow supports for children with disabilities in inclusive educational and recreational programs.
  • The annual Synagogue Summit Conference held each February – during Jewish Disability Awareness Month — convenes professionals, parents and lay leaders from 17 congregations to share best practices and mutual support.

The Ruderman Prize judges were impressed not only with MetroWest ABLE’s ability to foster inclusive synagogues for children across all Jewish denominations, but also with the enthusiasm and dedication of the rabbis, professionals and lay leaders who accept the ABLE challenge to build fully welcoming worship communities.

From all of us here at the Ruderman Family Foundation, congratulations to MetroWest ABLE for your exemplary work in building inclusive synagogues. Other Jewish communities have much to learn from your dedication to collaborative programming and comprehensive inclusion.

— Jay Ruderman

Note: “Zeh Lezeh” will not be publishing on Monday, October 1 due to the Sukkot holiday. We look forward to returning on Thursday, October 4.

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Filed under Disabilities rights, Disabilities Trends, Initiatives, Uncategorized

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