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Special Education and Inclusion

Read the Connections newsletter Encouraging, supporting and recognizing the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in all aspects of Jewish life in the Pittsburgh community.For many families, if a synagogue, JCC, or Jewish school is unable to accommodate the needs of their child, they are lost to Jewish life. AJL is committed to build the capacity of our synagogues and other Jewish institutions to include all who desire Jewish education, regardless of their needs. We offer expert consultation to teachers and principals, develop plans for individual students, train teachers and classroom aides, offer educational resources and curriculum, and disability awareness programming in synagogues and other institutions. These services are supported with a grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh Foundation.

AJL’s Special Needs Advisory Committee served as a convening body for professionals and volunteers concerned with inclusion in the Jewish community beginning in 2006. The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh now convenes professionals on a regular basis, while AJL continues to partner closely with the Federation, the JCC, Jewish Family and Children’s Services, Jewish Residential Services and The Friendship Circle.

AJL also supports programming such as the special education class that meets at Congregation Poale Zedeck, inclusion efforts in several area synagogues, training for teen volunteers in the teen Friendship Circle program, and more.

For more information about Special Education Services at AJL contact Nicolette Canterna, (412) 521-1101 x3207.

AJL Special Needs Distinguished Service Award

Congratulations to the 2014 Special Needs Distinguished Service Award recipient, Linda Lewis, Director of Operations at Jewish Residential Services! Above all, Ms. Lewis recognizes that when we value inclusion of people with disabilities, it adds value to the whole community. Read more in the 2014 Unsung Heroes Tribute Book

The AJL Special Needs Distinguished Service Award is presented annually to individuals who have furthered inclusion in our Jewish community in Jewish education and Jewish life. It honors special achievements, and promotes awareness across the community. Past awardees included Harold Goldwasser, Rabbi Chuck Diamond, Marci Barnes, Joan Charlson, Rabbi Mordy, Rivkee Rudolph, and Rabbi Alex Greenbaum.

Special Needs Distinguished Service awardees are recognized at AJL’s Annual Meeting.

Shore-Whitehill Award

Congratulations to the 2014 Shore-Whitehill recipient, Judith Greenwald Cohen! Ms. Cohen is an active promoter of inclusion of children with disabilities in schools and synagogues, and the mother of an adult child with special needs. She is also first vice president of the board of directors of Jewish Residential Services and a member of the advisory committee for United Way’s 21 and Able initiative. Read more in the 2014 Unsung Heroes Tribute Book.

Created in 1996, the Shore-Whitehill Award celebrates Jewish volunteers who promote the inclusion of people with disabilities in every aspect of Jewish life through advocacy or direct service to individuals and families. The award not only honors a volunteer, but also allows the nominating agency to recognize the individual in a way that allows that person’s service to inform and inspire others.

Shore-Whitehill awardees are recognized at AJL’s Annual Meeting.