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Special Articles

Jul172014
A Year of Hopeful Trends in the Inclusion World
July 17, 2014

As a teacher of Jewish Studies and b’nai mitzvah training children with a wide range of disabilities, and as a long time director of a disabilities program which is part of an 800+ camper Jewish overnight camp, I am immersed in the Jewish disabilities world and am part of dozens of year… Read more...

Feb42014
Inclusion Comes from the Top – and the Bottom, and Middle
February 4, 2014

On a recent ten-day Tikvah Ramah Israel trip, twelve participants with disabilities, ages 18-40, were treated to a once-in-a-lifetime visit to a 1,000-soldier army base. Admittedly, other tour groups visit army bases; our group spent three hours at the MAZI/Bar-Lev base near Kiryat Milachi, where… Read more...

Oct132013
David Dalnekoff Turns 40!
October 13, 2013

Most people at camp recognize David Dalnekoff as the hard-working, good-natured man who delivers the mail each day. This past Shabbat, David was honored by his synagogue, the Westville Shul in New Haven, Connecticut, with a Kiddush lunch in his honor, as he celebrated his 40th birthday. I was… Read more...

Aug152013
'I Get The Job Done' At Ramah's Guest House
August 15, 2013

I came to the Tikvah Program at Camp Ramah in New England in 1997 and was a camper in the Amitzim (the brave ones) division of the Tikvah program for campers with disabilities for about five years. Coming to Ramah was mostly my parents’ idea. We were looking for a Jewish camp mostly, and that was… Read more...

Jun172013
Summer Camp - Fun and Sun for EVERYONE!
June 17, 2013

The month leading up to the camp season is action-packed, a bit stressful and most of all—exciting. In less than a month, hundreds of campers with a range of disabilities will arrive at Jewish summer camps across North America. While the off-season is similarly busy with hiring staff… Read more...

May22013
Ramah Celebrates, Raises Money For Its Pioneering Camps By Biking Across Israel
May 2, 2013

An enthusiastic group of 72 bike riders and hikers, ages 13-73, arrived in Eilat on April 30 after biking since April 24 all the way from Jerusalem. They made the trip — the Ramah Israel Challenge — to support special needs programs at Ramah camps in the United States and Canada. Meaningful… Read more...

Mar62013
Jewish camps seeking to bring diverse groups under the same tent
March 6, 2013

NEW YORK (JTA) — Is there a more enthusiastic camper in the world than Ezra Fields-Meyer, a 17-year-old with high-functioning autism and a regular at Camp Ramah in Southern California? Not if you ask his father. Tom Fields-Meyer says his son’s annual visit to the rural retreat in Ojai, 80 miles… Read more...

Feb182013
Fresh Perspectives on Israel
February 18, 2013

Friends, Today I’m happy to share with you a fascinating description of Israel through the eyes of a group of young adults with Asperger Syndrome. Howard Blas, architect of Ramah New England’s highly respected inclusion program, accompanied this group on their Birthright trip and… Read more...

Jul132012
Our Inclusive Community
July 13, 2012

Our Tikvah participants joined the whole camp for a trip to Six Flags. Every year, I wonder if this is the best use of our time. It is a fun day, but it is very taxing. We assess the campers and their needs (Which rides? How much supervision? Water park?) and we assign two or three staff members to… Read more...

Jul102012
Book review: "Esau's Blessing: How the Bible Embraces those with Special Needs"
July 10, 2012

Book review: “Esau’s Blessing: How the Bible Embraces those with Special Needs” by Ora Horn Prouser, Ben Yehuda Press, 2011 Teaneck, New Jersey. Reviewed by Howard Blas. All rabbis and educators have incorporated the story of Moses and his speech difficulties (aral sfataym) into divrei torah and… Read more...

Aug302011
"Shabbos Is Calling" to Campers with Disabilities: All Year Long
August 30, 2011

This month, members of Camp Ramah in New England’s Tikvah Program returned to their home communities in New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Florida and California. Unlike their neurotypical peers who have year-round opportunities to participate in… Read more...

Mar102011
A cross-country crusade to open eyes about disabilities
March 10, 2011

The first annual Jerusalem Marathon later this month will provide spectacular views of 5,000+ years of history for spectators and competitors alike. All competitors, that is, except for Richard Bernstein, a blind attorney from Detroit, Michigan. Bernstein, 37, does not allow his lifelong lack of… Read more...

Feb242011
Shabbos is Calling: Camp Ramah engages Jewish teens with special needs in a year-round Jewish experience
February 24, 2011

In Azeem Kayum’s moving book, Wrestling with the Goddess, his mom writes, “Azeem does not want your sympathy. He wants your friendship. He wants to be accepted for who he is. I want all of you to realize that any one of you can be hit by a car today and become disabled. Would you like… Read more...

Dec242010
Jewish Educational Leadership: Nurturing an Online Community of Practice
December 24, 2010

Camp Ramah has been serving campers with special needs for over forty years. These include Ramah camps in Massachusetts, Canada, Wisconsin, New York, Georgia, California, Pennsylvania and Illinois, which offer programs for campers with a range of special needs. Some offer overnight camping… Read more...

Nov42010
Campers with Developmental Disabilities: The Tikvah Program
November 4, 2010

Disabilities: What the Ancient Rabbis knew At a pre-season retreat, twenty senior staff members of Camp Ramah in New England spent a weekend discussing the educational theme for the upcoming summer—the biblical concept of betzelem elohim —the idea that everyone is created in the… Read more...

Oct92010
Blessed with Options: The special Bat Mitzvah
October 9, 2010

Becoming a Bat Mitzvah has the potential to be affirming, celebratory, and a wonderful welcome into the Jewish community as a whole and into the community of Jewish women in particular. Yet, planning a Bat Mitzvah can be confusing and stressful, given the various practices accepted and the options… Read more...

Apr162010
Choosing the Right One: Summer Camps for Children with I/DD
April 16, 2010

Summer camp - both day camps and overnight camps - offer opportunities for children to learn new skills, form friendships, experiment with new interests, and learn new things about themselves. Children with intellectual disabilities are increasingly participating in these programs. But truly… Read more...

Jun112009
Toward an Orthodox Community that is More Responsive to People with Special Needs
June 11, 2009

Howard Blas is a social worker and special educator who primarily teaches students with special needs and circumstances in Jewish Studies and for bar and bat mitzvah. He is Director of the Tikvah Program at Camp Ramah in New England. Howard’s work has appeared in publications such as The Jerusalem… Read more...

Jun52009
Gearing Up for ‘Tour de Shuls’
June 5, 2009

Photo courtesy of Ken Turkewitz, New England Region Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs, Tour-de-Shuls Chair 2009 Riders and supporters from Camp Ramah gather at last years race. NEEDHAM — Over two years ago on a Sunday afternoon, Stephen Baum found himself heading south on his weekly bike… Read more...

May12007
A Specialized Program for Children with Developmental Disabilities within a "Typical" Overnight Summer Camp: Camp Ramah's Tikvah Program
May 1, 2007

Specialized summer camp programs for disabled children began to emerge in the late 19th century and expanded in the 1930’s and 40’s [1]. Although it is not known when integration of children with developmental disabilities into “regular” camps began, it is likely to have been pioneered in camps… Read more...

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