National Ramah Commission



Results Shared at National Symposium on Ramah Special Needs Programs Convened by
the National Ramah Commission and Attended by 120 People from Across North America


New York, NY (October 17, 2013)--Attendees at a national symposium on Ramah special needs programs convened in New York on October 13, 2013, by the National Ramah Commission learned the results of a new strategic planning survey conducted to document the impact of Ramah special needs programs. Ramah's leadership in the field of Jewish special needs camping dates back to its first Tikvah program in 1970, the first program of its kind. Today, all eight Ramah overnight camps and three Ramah day camps offer programs for families and children with disabilities.


The survey, carried out by the National Ramah Commission and Research Success Technologies, found that Ramah special needs programs enjoy a stellar reputation among experts, parents, staff, and staff alumni. It also found that Ramah programs provide access to Jewish education that families with children with special needs would not otherwise be able to attain, and that Ramah staff and other campers are positively impacted by their interaction with campers with disabilities.


The research results were revealed to and discussed by Ramah staff, parents, funders, and other symposium attendees, who gathered for the day at The Jewish Theological Seminary.


The one-day conference was opened by Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation, which focuses much of its funding to support inclusion and Jewish education for individuals with disabilities. The Foundation recently awarded a $50,000 grant to the National Ramah Commission to support the expansion of vocational education programs for young adults with special needs at four of the Ramah camps. "The Foundation has been involved with Ramah for a number of years," Ruderman noted. "We hope Ramah's dedication to inclusion will spread throughout the camping world. Ramah is truly a leader in the field." Ruderman was joined by Jo Ann Simons, the President and CEO of Cardinal Cushing Centers and adviser to the Ruderman Family Foundation. Simons told movingly of the experience of her son at the Tikvah program of Camp Ramah in New England, where he found a caring, inclusive Jewish community and was celebrated for his achievements in the paralympics games. "Ramah is at the forefront of inclusion," she said, adding that Ramah's Tikvah program has set the bar high.


The symposium included numerous group conversations among staff, parents, and camper alumni in discussions of best practices and future goals, as well as a community forum open to the public on the topic of building sustainable financial models for special needs programming. A panel discussion featured leaders in the field: Dr. Judith Ginsberg, Executive Director, Nash Family Foundation; Shelley Cohen, Founder/Director, The Jewish Inclusion Project; and Marcia Cohodes, Co-Chair of JFNA's Disability Work Group.


Click on the links below for additional information on the study, "The Impact of Ramah Programs for Children, Teens, and Young Adults with Disabilities"

About Camp Ramah

Ramah is the camping arm of Conservative Judaism. Together, our programs provide Ramah experiences for 10,000 children, teens, and young adults annually.


With the establishment of the Tikvah Program in 1970, Ramah became the first Jewish camp to extend camping opportunities to children with disabilities. Tikvah, Breira B'Ramah, and Camp Yofi now comprise Ramah's network of 14 programs for campers with disabilities.


The National Ramah Commission of The Jewish Theological Seminary provides oversight, educational planning, and coordination on behalf of the network of Ramah camps throughout North America and Ramah Programs in Israel.



National Ramah Commission, Inc. of The Jewish Theological Seminary


Nancy Scheff, Director of Communications


Phone: (212) 678-8881 


Renee Ghert-Zand, Public Relations Consultant


Cell: (917) 365-8668