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Howard in the News

‘You Can Do This!’
February 21, 2018

As the bus rolls up to the army base, A., one of the participants on the first ever Amazing Israel: Ramah Tikvah trip, begins to cry. “No, there are soldiers here and they’ll have guns,” she moans. “No, no, no, no.” Staff member Liz Offen speaks quietly and calmly. “I know this is… Read more...

First-Ever Ramah Tikvah Birthright Israel Trip
November 15, 2017

A partnership between Ramah and Birthright brings young adults with disabilities to experience Israel Los Angeles Jewish communal professional Michelle Wolf’s daughter had been on a Birthright Israel trip, and she wanted her 22-year-old son Danny to have the same experience. But until recently… Read more...

JDAIM: A Recap from Kayitz 2016
August 16, 2016

For chalutzim (campers) at Ramah in the Rockies, the masa (outing) is an integral part of camp. This summer, our Tikvah campers spent three days and two nights at Chatfield State Park, a very well-organized site with all of the necessary facilities for our campers, including showers, toilets, lake… Read more...

Inclusion is a Critical Social Justice Issue: An Interview with Beth Steinberg of Shutaf
April 9, 2016

Social Justice may be understood through the many lenses found in Jewish texts, but perhaps none as foundational as “love thy neighbor as thyself” (Leviticus 19:18). In an interview conducted by Covenant Award Recipient and Director of National Ramah Tikvah Network Howard Blas, Shutaf… Read more...

Israel: The Original Covenant Classroom
February 14, 2016

In a special guest post for Covenant Classroom, Covenant Award recipient and Director of the National Ramah Tikvah Network Howard Blas shares some of the latest and greatest creative and original educational programming from Israel and reminds us yet again how the land of our ancestors is truly… Read more...

We Will Hear and We Will Profit: The Mitzvah of Inclusion
February 11, 2016

This talk was produced in partnership with the Covenant Foundation: People with disabilities have more to offer the Jewish community than we realize, argues Howard Blas. In fact, they may become the cornerstone of your business. ;hellip; Read more...

Special Needs Israel Experience
January 10, 2016

How do you you create a meaningful Israel experience for young adults with special needs? Video blogger Aaron Herman spoke with Covenant Award winner Howard Blass, Director of the Tikvah Program at Camp Ramah in New England, Tali Cohen, Director of Tikvah Vocational Services and participants about… Read more...

Disabilities, Inclusion, and Jewish Education
December 10, 2015

How does the Jewish community help individuals with a range of disabilities participate meaningfully in Jewish education and Jewish life? A panel of experts discusses key innovations and challenges in the field as they apply to both formal and informal Jewish education, and explores which programs… Read more...

New Online Inclusion Guide Helps Camp Prepare For All Campers
July 8, 2015

As more Jewish camps across the country expand their programs to welcome campers of all abilities, a new online resource has been created in a partnership between the Foundation For Jewish Camp and the Ramah Camping Movement. The “Inclusion Training Guide for Jewish Summer Camps” is a… Read more...

Ramah's Tikvah Program for campers with disabilities offers summer fun in Jewish setting
February 4, 2015

"Having kids with disabilities is just as normal as having sports at Camp Ramah. It’s what we do,” said Howard Blas, director of the Tikvah Program at Camp Ramah. That is great news for 18-year old Uriel Levitt of Silver Spring, who has Down syndrome, a genetic condition in which a person has 47… Read more...

Training a Field of Young Inclusion Professionals
January 8, 2015

When I first began working in the Tikvah Program at Camp Ramah in New England in 1984, all of the counselors came to Tikvah from OUTSIDE of Ramah. My co-counselor, for example, was studying learning disabilities at Yeshiva University and came to Ramah, a Conservative Movement camp, to work with… Read more...

Camps promote inclusion, job skills with burgeoning vocational programs
January 4, 2015

(JTA) – Like many 22-year-olds, Ben Nadis has somewhat murky career goals. Though he likes his job at the Kroger near his house in Farmington Hills, Mich., he doesn’t want to work there forever. Maybe he’ll be on TV instead, he jokes” he’s not sure. But Nadis isn’t like most 22-year-olds. He was… Read more...

New Online Learning Center Launched to Enhance Inclusion of People with Disabilities in Synagogue Programs
December 23, 2014

The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) and the Ruderman Family Foundation have launched the URJ Ruderman Disabilities Inclusion Learning Center, an innovative and interactive online resource center. A key element of the far-reaching URJ Ruderman Synagogue Inclusion Initiative, this pioneering learning… Read more...

Special Needs Israel Experience
January 11, 2014

How do you create a meaningful Israel experience for young adults with special needs? Video blogger Aaron Herman spoke with Covenant Award winner Howard Blas, Director of the Tikvah Program at Camp Ramah in New England, Tali Cohen, Director of Tikvah ocational Services and participants about their… Read more...

Greenwich woman goes to camp for vocational-training
September 4, 2013

For nearly 45 years, Camp Ramah – the summer program of the Conservative movement — has promoted a policy of inclusivity, involving children and young adults in a range of camping programs, from overnight, day, and family camping, as well as vocational-training opportunities…. Read more...

Ramah program bolsters life skills and Jewish identity
August 23, 2013

David Weisberg of Oradell has had a particularly valuable – and enjoyable — summer. David, who is 21, has Cohen syndrome, a developmental delay involving both low muscle tone and vision impairment. He spent two months at Camp Ramah in New England, and is ending the summer not only… Read more...

'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...

Three Jewish educators receive Covenant Awards
June 8, 2013

Times of Israel writer Howard Blas among the winners NEW YORK (JTA) — Three Jewish educators are being honored with Covenant Foundation grants. The recipients of the annual grants given for excellence in Jewish education in America are Howard Blas, director of the Tikvah program at Camp… Read more...

Round Of Honors For Educators
June 6, 2013

With the last day of school on the horizon, some Jewish educators are receiving not just year-end cards and gifts, but prominent awards. The Covenant Foundation just announced the three recipients for its annual Covenant Award: Zion Ozeri of The Jewish Lens, Howard Blas of Camp Ramah in New… Read more...

The Covenant Foundation Names 2013 Award Recipients for Excellence in Jewish Education
June 5, 2013

Three Jewish Educators are Recipients of The Covenant Award, Cited for Innovation, Inspiration and Impact on Jewish Education and Community New York, NY, Jun 5, 2013—In a bucolic summer camp in New England, within a Jewish day school in the Midwest, and through a camera lens capturing the… Read more...

Another Award For Inclusion
June 5, 2013

Hot on the heels of the announcement that Eric Rosenthal of Disability Rights International won the Charles Bronfman Prize, another major Jewish award is going to a disability community leader. Howard Blas, director of the Tikvah Program at Camp Ramah in New England, is one of this year’s… Read more...

Three Jewish educators receive Covenant Foundation awards
June 5, 2013

NEW YORK (JTA) — Three Jewish educators are being honored with Covenant Foundation awards. The recipients of the annual awards given for excellence in Jewish education in America are Howard Blas, director of the Tikvah program at Camp Ramah in New England; Judy Finkelstein-Taff, head of… Read more...

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...

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...

Looking for Connections
January 28, 2013

Taglit-Birthright Israel’s 10-day trip to Israel has a mission to connect young Jews, ages 18 to 26, not only with Israel, but with their Jewish identity and each other. Once a year, a very special trip takes place for young adults for whom making connections is a challenge. The participants on… Read more...

Blind camper’s case points up Jewish camps’ struggle to meet special needs
July 24, 2012

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Solomon Krishef was thrilled to learn that this summer he could go to his Jewish sleepaway camp for eight weeks — twice as long as the previous four summers. It was not to be for the Michigan teenager. During visiting day in the middle of the summer, his family says, the camp… Read more...

Tikvah Director Howard Blas Receives S'fatai Tiftakh Award at Hebrew College
May 10, 2012

In recognition of his important contributions to creating inclusive Jewish lives for those with special needs, Hebrew College’s Center for Jewish Special Education has presented the S’fatai Tiftakh award to Howard Blas at their fourth annual national GISHA (access) conference… Read more...

Howard Blas to be awarded prestigious S’fatai Tiftakh Award
April 6, 2012

Howard will be receiving the prestigious S’fatai Tiftakh Award on Monday, April 30th, 2012 by Hebrew College’s Center for Jewish Special Education: Read more...

Tikvah Director Howard Blas to Receive S’fatai Tiftakh Award at Hebrew College!
March 30, 2012

We are very excited to share this special announcement with the Ramah community. MAZAL TOV, Howard! Anyone who has spent time at Camp Ramah in New England is immediately aware that this camp is magical for the campers who live among their peers, creating a Jewish space, time, and community. And… Read more...

Israel Through Special Eyes
February 3, 2012

Sitting at the Nalaga’at ("Please Touch”) Center in Jaffa, Howard Blas, special educator and social worker from New York, sits down to speak with The Jerusalem Post about a fascinating group of young men and women who have come to Israel for a 10-day trip. The travelers, all affiliated with… Read more...

The Prize for Perseverance
November 11, 2011

When I saw the news headlines announcing that Professor Dan Shechtman, an Israeli, won the Nobel Prize in chemistry, I was proud. But when I read further and learned the details of his story, I knew that we just had to interview him for Babaganewz. Professor Shechtman discovered something called… Read more...

Tour de Shuls raises money for camp program
July 18, 2011

This year, the crowd got larger and the money raised grew too, at the 2nd Annual Tour de Shuls held on Father’s Day. For those unfamiliar with the term, “shul” is another word for synagogue. The fundraiser, hosted by Beth El Temple, brought out more than 100 cyclists, runners and… Read more...

Jewish Disabilities Awareness Month
February 4, 2011

I am delighted at how much press Jewish Disabilities Awareness Month has been receiving. Please see my original blog posting on Davar Acher: (see the lovely comment just received). And on our Ramah New England site:… Read more...

Attention To Disabilities Seen Changing
January 18, 2011

A Modern Orthodox Jew living on the Upper East Side, she has encountered her share of frustration, especially as she looked for a Jewish day school or yeshiva with the resources that might have served her daughter, only to conclude that none did. Like the parents of many Jewish children with… Read more...

New Haven educator among presenters at first Jewish special needs funding conference
October 14, 2010

NEW YORK, N.Y. — Jewish philanthropists from the U.S., Israel, Australia and the United Kingdom will gather in New York City on Oct. 20 to tackle the issue of special needs at ADVANCE: The Ruderman Jewish Special Needs Funding Conference. Hosted by the Ruderman Family Foundation, in partnership… Read more...

Camp for Everyone: The blessings of Jewish camps for special-needs kids
August 2, 2010

Are you completely sick of me yammering about camp? Well, you’ll be glad to know that this is my last camp-related column of the summer. But while the others have been jokey, this one is anything but. Ezra Kress at camp in 2010. Photo by Jeffrey Kress Meet Ezra, the 12-year-old son of my… Read more...

Ramah Special Needs Program Celebrates 40 Years of Inclusion
July 13, 2010

Campers, families, counselors and others touched by Ramah’s Tikvah program for special needs youth converged Sunday at Camp Ramah New England to mark the groundbreaking initiative and four decades of impact. The Tikvah program, established at Camp Ramah New England in 1970, and now active… Read more...

Camp Ramah Marks 40 Years of Inclusion for Special Needs Campers
July 12, 2010

Avi Friedman Matthew Bander, left, of Brighton, is a former Tikvah camper who attended the 40th anniversary celebrations at Camp Ramah New England on Sunday. He is pictured with Emily Perlmutter, a friend of his and the program. PALMER, MA — Campers, families, counselors and others touched… Read more...

Inauguration of the Jim Joseph Building
February 28, 2010

I am writing this at the close of a series of meetings with the Jim Joseph Fellows who are members of the fellowship program that I am heading up together with my colleague, Esther Feldman. The Fellows are educational leaders in a wide variety of venues who have been brought together as a group and… Read more...

Educators Going Viral
January 12, 2010

Jerusalem — Conference organizers usually frown on participants who Facebook, Tweet or Google during a seminar, but no one objected when some of the 14 participants in a new fellowship program for Jewish educators did just that during a lively lecture. Hand-picked for their expertise as… Read more...

Howard Blas Awarded Prestigious Fellowship
December 1, 2009

Congratulations to Westville Shul member Howard Blas who is one of fourteen individuals selected from over two hundred applicants for the new Jim Joseph Foundation fellowship program created at Bar-Ilan University. The fellowship seeks to identify, train and empower leading educators in both formal… Read more...

Two Connecticut educators tapped for new national fellowship
September 9, 2009

BRIDGEPORT - A new fellowship has been created by the Lookstein Center at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, and the charter group of 14 participants includes two from Connecticut, Howard Blas and Ira Wise. The two educators were selected from a group of more than 200 applicants. The Bar-Ilan… Read more...

Howard Blas awarded prestigious Jim Joseph Foundation Fellowship
July 3, 2009

“Yasher Koach to Tikvah Director, Howard Blas, who has been chosen from among hundreds of nominees to be in the very first cohort of Jim Joseph Foundation Fellows. The Jim Joseph Foundation Fellows - Leading Educators Online is a new, prestigious, leading-edge fellowship program, funded by… Read more...

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