Masorti Bar/Bat Mitzvah Program for Children with Special Needs Wins Coveted Award
Signage for the Shalem Foundation Excellence Prize at the awards ceremony in November.
Genia, on the bima at a Masorti kehilla, is one youngster who celebrated his bar mitzvah, thanks to the Masorti movement and its Bar/Bat Mitzvah Program for Children with Special Needs.
Venerable Israeli Social Service Organization Awards Prize to Masorti's Bar/Bat Mitzvah Program for Children with Special Needs
Masorti's Bar/Bat Mitzvah Program for Children with Special Needs has been recognized by one of Israel's foremost national social service organizations working to support and highlight the needs of individuals with disabilities. The Masorti program – unique in Israel – has won the coveted 2010 Shalem Foundation Excellence Prize, awarded each year to a project, program or staff benefiting this population. The Shalem Foundation was established in 1983 by the Center of Local Authority in collaboration with the Ministry of Welfare.
In accordance with the Shalem Foundation's vision to integrate those with cognitive challenges and disabilities into mainstream life, the Masorti program offers Israeli special needs youngsters and their families the only avenue to celebrate this Jewish lifecycle event and thus experience the joy of full acceptance by Jewish community. Within Orthodox congregations, there is an absence of any formal bar/bat mitzvah preparation for children with special needs, and they are marginalized by Orthodox religious authorities.
The Shalem Foundation described the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Program for Children with Special Needs as an innovative model and a break-through, citing its role in pioneering the development and utilization of state-of-the-art alternative communications devices, such as computerized sound kits; sign language for Torah reading; and visual pedagogy. In addition to readying youngsters for group bnai mitzvah, which take place in Masorti kehillot, the program also provides a course of Jewish enrichment, lasting three to six months, through the special needs schools the children attend. Eligible children are identified by their schools, and the Masorti movement provides all services, including teacher training, at no cost to the schools or to the families.
What began as a partnership with one special needs school has spread to 30 to 40 special needs schools throughout Israel, making it possible each year for as many as 300 Israeli children with special needs to connect to Israel, Jewish values and religious heritage.
To learn more about the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Program for Children with Special Needs and other Masorti movement programs and services and how your support can help make a difference for all Israelis, please visit our website, www.masorti.org.
To learn more, please contact: Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel 475 Riverside Drive, Suite 832 New York, NY 10115-0068 (212) 870-2216; 1-877-287-7414 http://www.masorti.org/; firstname.lastname@example.org