Jewish Federations, Ruderman Family Foundation, launch initiative to place adults with disabilities as interns and fellows at Federations

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October 2, 2013


Max Samis, Rabinowitz Communications,, (202) 265-3000, (202) 681-2528

Jewish Federations, Ruderman Family Foundation, launch initiative to place adults with disabilities as interns and fellows at Federations

Pilot program aims to promote disability inclusion in Jewish community

The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and the Ruderman Family Foundation are launching a groundbreaking initiative to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities in the Jewish community. The Ruderman Family Foundation Opportunity Initiative, starting in 2014, will place young adults with disabilities in internships and fellowships at five Federations across the country, as well as in JFNA’s Washington office.

The internships will not only provide young adults with disabilities with meaningful employment opportunities and career training, but will fill staff needs at Federations and further a culture of workplace inclusion.

“We believe that this initiative, in collaboration with JFNA, will help change the culture in our Jewish institutions by making them more inclusive,” said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “By making people with disabilities more visible, we will raise awareness of the importance of inclusion, thus strengthening the Jewish community and benefitting us all.”

This landmark project, to inspire greater disability inclusion by Federations and other Jewish organizations, is being made possible thanks to a generous grant by the Ruderman Family Foundation.

“Our core Jewish values compel us to further embrace and include people with disabilities in our community,” said Jerry Silverman, president and CEO, The Jewish Federations of North America. “The Ruderman Family Foundation Opportunity Initiative offers Federations an inspiring and critically important opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives.”

The Ruderman Family Foundation Opportunity Initiative will begin with a one-year pilot. Five Federations will be selected from among the 16 Federations represented on JFNA’s Human Services & Public Policy Disability Committee to participate in the pilot, with the goal of including a wider pool of Federations should the pilot expand into a second year.

Each of the five participating Federations will be asked to identify an employment opportunity that provides a meaningful employment and training experience.  Federations will also be asked to provide a workplace that can both accommodate individuals with a range disabilities and a work environment that promotes inclusion of all employees.

Internships will be divided into three 16-18 week sessions, from January through April; May through August; and September through December.  Fellowships will last for 10 months, beginning in January.  The Federations participating and the individuals employed will ideally represent a cross-section of the Federation system, the disability community and the Jewish community.

Each Federation will select an intern or fellow through an equal opportunity employment search. Wages earned by interns and fellows will be provided jointly by the participating Federations and the Ruderman Family Foundation.


The Ruderman Family Foundation believes that inclusion and understanding of each other is essential to a fair and flourishing community. Guided by our Jewish values, we support effective programs, innovative partnerships and a dynamic approach to philanthropy. Our core areas of interest: advocating for and advancing the inclusion of people with disabilities throughout the Jewish community; fostering a more nuanced understanding of the American Jewish community among Israeli leaders; and modeling the practice of strategic philanthropy worldwide. The Foundation provides funding, leadership and expertise in both the U.S. and Israel, with offices in both countries, while it engages a global dialogue on its blog at For more information about our programs, partners and grantees, please visit

The Jewish Federations, collectively among the top 10 charities on the continent, protects and enhances the well-being of Jews worldwide through the values of tikkun olam (repairing the world), tzedakah (charity and social justice) and Torah (Jewish learning).

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