Jewish Learning Venture Launches The ‘Inclusion Specialists Network’


Jewish Learning Venture’s ‘Whole Community Inclusion’ is excited to announce the launch of The Inclusion Specialists Network, a new professional development opportunity focused on educators who work in congregational schools to support students who need extra learning, behavioral and/or emotional support.

Specialists will learn from each other, share resources and receive ongoing professional development from experts in the disability inclusion field. The Inclusion Specialists Network is made possible by a generous grant from the Janet and Alvin Schwartz Fund for Special Education. In addition to professional development and ongoing consultation with WCI Director Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer, each participating congregation receives a $750 stipend to use towards their accessibility and inclusion efforts.

“This network allows us to both emphasize the importance of hiring inclusion specialists in our congregational schools and also give direct support to those educators who are working most closely with students with disabilities and their families,” explains Rabbi Phil Warmflash, CEO of Jewish Learning Venture. “It is a significant step towards the inclusion of all children in Jewish educational settings across the area.”

Five congregations from the Greater Philadelphia area have been selected in this inaugural year. They are: Ohev Shalom of Bucks County; Har Zion Temple; Main Line Reform Temple; Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El; and Tiferet Bet Israel.

“I don’t have words to express how right this feels,” says Linda Satlow, one of the daughters of Janet and Alvin Schwartz (z’l).  “My parents would be so proud. They were committed to synagogue life and had a particular wish that Jewish learning be available for any child.”

Through Whole Community Inclusion, Jewish Learning Venture helps to ensure that families raising children with special needs find the support and accommodations needed for full inclusion in Jewish life.

Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer directs Jewish Learning Venture’s ‘Whole Community Inclusion’ which fosters inclusion of people with disabilities through the Philadelphia Jewish community. She loves writing/editing for “The New Normal.”  Her latest book The Little Gate-Crasher is a memoir of her Great-Uncle Mace Bugen, a self-made millionaire and celebrity selfie-artist who was 43 inches tall and was chosen for this year’s Jewish Disability Awareness & Inclusion Month Book Selections. She’s recently shared an ELI Talk on Standing With Families Raising Kids With Disabilities and has released a journal designed for special needs parents.

More from The New Normal here.