Berman Jewish Policy Archive @ NYU Wagner
Berman Jewish Policy Archive @ NYU Wagner Newsletter
April 2010
Dear Friends,
In a recent op-ed for The Jewish Week, Devorah Zlochower and Rabbi Dov Linzer spoke of children - like theirs - who suffer from "invisible disabilities": Asperger syndrome, autism, learning disabilities, and other mood and behavioral disorders. They describe how Jewish communities - from day schools to synagogues - are largely inaccessible to them, causing them to retreat to resources in the secular world which offer more support.

In recognition of National Autism Awareness Month, BJPA is highlighting its resources on special needs in the Jewish community. Our collection's earliest document that speaks directly to this is from 1916: Organizing a Big Brother League describes the Baltimore Big Brother chapter's efforts "to cooperate with educational authorities in aiding backward and deficient children...and retarded boys of working age."

In a different vein, the Bulletins of the National Conference of Jewish Charities from 1914-1918 include reports on pioneering Jewish communal work with the blind and the deaf. This work finds its counterpart in the 1990 publication, "Accepting the Challenge: How a Jewish Community Hears and Shares the Needs of Jewish Deaf Members."

The Journal of Jewish Communal Service charts how Jewish Community Centers, social service agencies, and religious communities have dealt with people with special needs in the context of changing societal perceptions of these individuals.

Publications by CAJE and JESNA show how this struggle continues in day schools. Of particular note is a report by Leora Isaacs and Caren Levine on Communal Provision of Jewish Education for Students with Special Needs. On the informal education side, these articles describe the pioneering work of Camp Ramah's Tikvah Program to mainstream adolescents with developmental disabilities and to ensure that the gates of camp remain open to all campers.

The UJA-Federation of New York has prioritized the issue of addressing autism and developmental disabilities in our communities, commissioning "Autism: A Call to Further Action" and "Long Island Sounds: Findings and Recommendations for People With Developmental Disabilities." On Thursday April 22, 2010, it will be hosting its third annual Autism symposium, focusing on "Emerging Into Young Adulthood With Autism: Community Responses to Urgent Needs."

Finally, the Washington DC office of the Jewish Federations of North America has named "advocating on behalf of persons with disabilities and/or mental illness" as one of its top public policy priorities of 2010.

We hope that you will find these and our other related holdings to be of interest.

With best wishes,
Prof. Steven M. Cohen
Director, Berman Jewish Policy Archive @ NYU Wagner

In honor of Yom Ha'atzmaut, Israel Independence Day, we invite you to explore material on Israel-Diaspora relations, covering topics from public opinion to Israel experience programs, from changing conceptions of Zionism to the shifting role of Israel education in schools and synagogues.


The American Jewish Community's Next Stage, Hayim Herring (April 2010)

2010 Annual Survey of American Jewish Opinion, AJC (April 2010)

Ideas Worth Investing In: The Scope of Joshua Venture Group's Applicant Pool, JVG (March 2010)

J Street: National Survey of American Jews, J Street (March 2010)

The Future of Conservative Jewry, Arnold Eisen (March 2010)

From People to Purpose: The New Ethos of Innovative Jewish Leaders, Steven M. Cohen (March 2010)

The Future of Jewish Education, Jack Wertheimer (January 2010)

The Second Year: Evaluation of the Break New Ground Jewish Service Learning Initiative, Fern Chertok et al. (January 2010)

Click HERE for More New Publications



On April 3, Prof. Paul Ritterband passed away in Haifa, Israel. Prof. Ritterband was an eminent scholar of the social scientific study of Jewry. He served for many years as Head of the Center for Jewish Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center and on the sociology faculty of CCNY. He received his doctorate from Columbia University and rabbinical ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. During the 1960s he served as rabbi of the Reconstructionist Synagogue of the North Shore. His many publications include Education, Employment and Migration, Jewish Learning in American Universities, and Contemporary Jewish Philanthropy in America.  His collaborators over the years included Barry Kosmin, Steven M. Cohen, Rina Shapira, and Harold Wechsler. He received the 2008 Marshall Sklare Award from the Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry. We invite you to check out his writings on the Jewish familyfertility, Conservative Judaism, philanthropy, and demography.


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BJPA is funded by the Mandell L. and Madeleine H. Berman Foundation and the Charles H. Revson Foundation.