All children and their families want to be welcomed and embraced. Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford’s Commission on Jewish Education and Leadership (CJEL) supports the concept of inclusion - meaning that every person in our Jewish community deserves to live a full life and participate in day-to-day activities.
How do we put this into practice? CJEL helps to ensure that students with disabilities can learn alongside their non-disabled peers in our religious school classrooms. Not every Jewish school can meet all the needs of their children with special needs at all times, but CJEL helps by providing some additional funding and professional supports.
CJEL recently piloted the Inclusion Initiative, funded by a grant from a donor advised fund at the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford. CJEL provided grants to Beth El Temple and Congregation Beth Israel to hire professional adult support for their students, enabling students with more significant disabilities to participate in religious school in the least restrictive environment. CJEL also assisted these schools in finding paraprofessionals, including some already employed and trained by the West Hartford school system.
CJEL also provides consultations with a certified special education teacher to promote inclusionary practices and to share helpful behavioral interventions and strategies that teachers and paraprofessionals can use in the classroom.
“My son would not be able to be in the religious school classroom without the support he is receiving from his paraprofessional. She helps to acclimate him to the room and she is by his side throughout the program. She helps him in so many ways and we are so grateful that he is able to receive a formal religious school education.” –Parent