Conference Helps Open Up Community to Special Needs


Jewish Learning Venture, (formerly the Auerbach Central Agency for Jewish Education/Jewish Outreach Partnership), The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and 12 other Jewish communal agencies, will come together to help make area synagogues, schools, camps and other community organizations fully accessible to persons with special needs.

On Sunday, April 29, 2:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., at Congregation Adath Israel in Merion Station, these groups will strive to "Open the Gates of Torah" to all members of the Jewish community through a comprehensive conference.


The conference fee is a nominal $18 per person, which includes dinner.

Conference participants can learn about: how the Bible embraces those with special needs; ways to help children with social-cognitive challenges be successful in life; an innovative employment program for young adults who need support in making the transition from school to work; the changing climate of government funding for residential services for adults with special needs; assistive technology devices and services; how a family can deal with a sibling who becomes physically disabled; learning disabilities and adopted children; best practices for using positive behavior supports to develop educational, synagogue and community programs that include everyone; and much more.

Deborah Gettes, program director, Special Needs Initiatives for Jewish Learning Venture, said the conference is designed for parents of children of all ages who have special needs, rabbis, synagogue lay leaders, day school principals, religious school and early childhood directors, teachers, youth group advisers and camp directors, Jewish communal professionals and adults with special needs.

Gettes explains that the conference reflects the "hard work and collaboration" of the 12 community organizations which comprise the Special Needs Consortium.

She says that the group has worked closely with Albert Einstein Hospital, Federation Early Learning Services, Federation's Jewish Information and Referral Service (JIRS), JCHAI, JEVS Human Services, Jewish Family and Children's Service, Jewish Community High School of Gratz College, Kohelet Foundation, OROT, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Friendship Circle, a project of Lubavitch House, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and Union of Reform Judaism for more than a year to put this program together.

For more information or to register, call Gettes at 215-320-0389 or email [email protected]

Register online at:



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