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 Movement-wide network will focus on expanding Ramah programs
for campers with disabilities and leveraging Ramah's field leadership
to promote greater inclusion in Jewish education


New York, NY (October 21, 2014)--The National Ramah Commission has announced that Howard Blas has been appointed as the first Director of the National Ramah Tikvah Network, in order to promote the growth of programming for campers with disabilities within the Ramah movement and beyond. Blas, who has served as the Director of the Tikvah Program at Camp Ramah in New England for 14 years, is an award-winning disabilities educator who is widely recognized as a leading national expert and spokesperson on behalf of inclusion and Jewish education for young people with disabilities.

"We are delighted that Howard is leading the National Ramah team to help us continue to support and expand our programs for campers with disabilities. He will also serve as Ramah's liaison with other camping and educational organizations that seek to learn from Ramah's expertise in the field," said Rabbi Mitchell Cohen, Director of the National Ramah Commission. Cohen noted that since the founding of the first Ramah Tikvah program in 1970, all eight Ramah overnight camps and three Ramah day camps now have summer programs for campers with disabilities, including Ramah's newest camp, Ramah Outdoor Adventure in Colorado. More than 320 campers with disabilities were part of the Ramah network in the summer of 2014. "Our neurotypical campers, as well as the young adult counselors working with Tikvah, are all impacted in positive ways by inclusion, with some even making career choices based on their work with young people with disabilities."

Blas's work is funded by a generous grant from the Leo Oppenheimer and Flora Oppenheimer Haas Foundation. The National Ramah Tikvah Network has also been a beneficiary of grants from The Covenant Foundation, the Rita J. and Stanley H. Kaplan Foundation, Eileen and Jerry Lieberman, the Neshamot Fund of UJA-Federation of NY, the Poses Family Foundation, The Ruderman Family Foundation, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, and other funders and donors committed to inclusion. Numerous other foundations and families support the inclusion programs at individual Ramah camps.

Howard will work closely with National Ramah staff including Orlee Krass, who currently coordinates staff training for the National Ramah Tikvah Network, focusing on helping our camps expand their offerings in this area, the training of staff for Ramah and other Jewish camps, advocacy for the field, and strengthening the networking among parents, professional staff, summer staff, and donors.


About the Ramah Camping Movement and the National Ramah Tikvah Network

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

The Ramah Camping Movement is a pioneer in the field of inclusion for Jewish campers with a wide range of disabilities. Tikvah, Breira B'Ramah, and Camp Yofi comprise the National Ramah Tikvah Network of programs. Since the first Ramah Tikvah program opened in 1970, a variety of programs for campers with disabilities-overnight and day camp programs, vocational education programs, and family camps-now operate in Ramah camps across North America. Regardless of their geographic location, families are directed to the regional Ramah camp that best suits their child's needs.

For more information, visit



Nancy Scheff, Director of Communications

National Ramah Commission, Inc. of The Jewish Theological Seminary

Phone: (212) 678-8881