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Special Articles

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...

Aug52005
Yale Developmental Disabilities Clinic Newsletter: Camp Ramah New England
August 5, 2005

Howard was interviewed for Yale’s Developmental Disabilities Clinic Newsletter - Summer 2005 edition, what follows is the excerpt containing Howard’s interview. The original newsletter can be accessed here: http://www.med.yale.edu Camp Ramah, the camping branch of the… Read more...

May12005
Old-New Poland
May 1, 2005

POLAND — The trains whiz in and out of the Oswiecim Station, to and from the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. The people stand, packed like sardines with little room to move. The men with beards and black hats are sent by government agents to the left and to the right. We are in Poland… Read more...

Nov202000
Book Review: How to Be A Jewish Parent
November 20, 2000

Putting a mezuzah on the doll’s house is just one of many ways to turn your home into ‘Jewish space’ Maybe you can’t judge a book by its cover, or even by its title, but that didn’t stop fellow riders on several Manhattan buses and subways from offering their comments about Anita Diamant’s new… Read more...

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