(New York, NY) – March 12, 2012 – Twenty congregational school education directors from across the country, including Froma Fallik of Bonai Shalom in Boulder came together for the inaugural Matan Institute earlier this week in New York City. Committing to a 15 month program that will enable their schools to better accommodate children with special learning needs, this is Matan’s first major effort to shift focus from direct service only to providing in-depth special needs training opportunities for current and future Jewish education professionals.
The twenty participating Education Directors were selected from among thirty-four applicants, based upon their readiness to implement change in their congregational schools and their ability to commit to the entire program. Matan, named one of the nation’s 50 most innovative Jewish nonprofits in Slingshot ’11-’12, received funding for the Institute from The Adler Family Innovation Fund of The Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, The Natan Fund, The Solelim Fund of UJA-Federation of New York and The Jewish Women’s Foundation of New York.
Two out of every ten Jewish families face the challenge of raising a child with special needs. Many of these parents believe Jewish education is not an option for their children. In twelve years, Matan has received hundreds of inquiries from parents, educators and communal leaders seeking support, materials and training. The Matan Institutes, which will target different types of Jewish education professionals in multiple cohorts, seeks to eliminate the need for parents to explain why their child with special needs should receive a quality Jewish education and intends to eradicate Jewish professionals’ feelings of being ill-prepared to address these challenges.
Bonai Shalom is committed to an inclusive model of education that allows most students access to a rich, meaningful, and joyful Jewish education. Our small class size, warm nurturing environment and extensive tutoring resources make our school a safe place place for students with learning differences. The Matan Institute program is helping to provide better tools so that all students can have a positive Jewish experience,” said Froma Fallik.
The two-day intensive program on March 11-12 featured a keynote address by Rabbi Bradley Artson, Dean of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at American Jewish University in California, and his 19 year old son Jacob, who has Autism and communicates through typing. Matan staff presented on such topics as differentiated instruction, communicating with families and developing proper systems to understand various students’ needs. Other speakers included Leslie Josel, founder of Order Out of Chaos, Mitchell Levitz, co-author of Count Us In and Inspirational Speaker Tami Luchow.
Matan’s mission is to ensure that every Jewish student has access to a meaningful Jewish education and that one’s special needs never become a barrier to full participation in Jewish life. Matan advocates for Jewish students with special needs, empowers their families, and educates Jewish leaders, teachers and communities so that all Jewish children have access to a rich and meaningful Jewish education. For more information, visit www.matankids.org.