The Ruderman Family Foundation (RFF) has put $1 million towards the establishment of a partnership with Chabad-Lubavitch in order to create a culture of inclusion for people with disabilities within some 4,200 Jewish communities worldwide.

The partnership between the RFF and Chabad was developed to promote a marked difference in the real-life experience of people with disabilities by changing attitudes within Jewish communities from “doing for” to “working with” people with disabilities.

“We believe that the Ruderman Family Foundation’s partnership with Chabad will bring the message of disability inclusion to Jews everywhere," said Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation. "The Lubavitcher Rebbe [Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory] taught that every Jew is equal, and every Jew is a valued member of our community regardless of their abilities. Our partnership with Chabad will ensure that his message is embraced by all Jews.”

Ruderman, a passionate advocate of inclusion, says the decision to partner with Chabad was clear: “With emissaries in virtually every Jewish community across the globe, Chabad represents one of the most extensive and influential outreach efforts in the Jewish world.”

The grant—to date the largest the RFF has made to a religious organization—will be used to develop comprehensive programming introducing strategic initiatives for the inclusion of people with disabilities across the lifespan—from preschoolers through the teenage years, on college campuses and into adulthood. The initiative will offer internships to train post-seminary students and camp counselors on best practices on inclusion and will be test-piloted in 25 select Jewish communities.

At Lubavitch World Headquarters, Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, chairman of Chabad’s educational and social-services divisions, expressed great satisfaction at this partnership, especially because “the values of inclusion that the Rebbe pioneered are inherent to Chabad. This partnership will take the great work that Chabad has done heretofore with people with disabilities to yet another level.”

According to program director Dr. Sarah Kranz-Ciment, PT, DPT, “The RCII pilot programs will create a number of successful models of disability inclusion in every aspect of Jewish community life, which will enable our international network to learn from these successes and implement them in their respective communities. This initiative will change mindsets across the globe and help shape communities where everyone is welcome.”

The RCII team is led by Rabbi Shmaya Krinsky,Sarah Kranz-Ciment,Chaya Perman,Shelly Christensen, Neil Halpert and Marcy Horwitz.