A Modest Proposal: Jewish Organizations Supporting Disability (Owned and Friendly) Businesses

A Modest Proposal: Jewish Organizations Supporting Disability (Owned and Friendly) Businesses

When the Covenant Foundation held their Project Directors meetings in New Jersey this past February, they wanted attendees to enjoy a sweet treat as they learned about companies across the country training and employing people with disabilities. What better way to enjoy the session than with a custom made Oreo dipped in chocolate—with the Covenant logo on top?  The cookies were prepared and served by Alexa Chalup, 14 year veteran of Camp Ramah and the current owner of Truly Scrumptious by Alexa. 

Covenant has taken the lead in supporting businesses owned and operated by people with disabilities.  Last week, they honored special members of the Covenant and Pomegranate Award families with gift boxes prepared by people with disabilities at Yachad Gifts.   

This is a model other Jewish (and non-Jewish!) organizations should embrace.

Ramah Darom just surprised members of the camp community who enrolled early with as special gift—an awesome pair of socks!  They report, “Every year, we search for a unique and fun idea for our returning priority enrollment campers. This year we found one that was so great we decided to share it with ALL campers who enroll by October 30, 2020!”  They purchased socks from John’s Crazy Socks, a company owned by a young man on Long Island (NY) with Down Syndrome his father.  I have had the privilege of meeting and interviewing them.  Ramah Darom is proud of the sock purchase:  “They are not only fun, fantastic and uniquely Camp Ramah Darom, but they also support our mission of inclusion, diversity, supporting people of all abilities and spreading smiles.”

There is so much potential for establishing meaningful shidduchs.  In the Washington, DC area, two Ramah New England vocational program participants, Uriel Levitt and Jacob Werbin started Shred Support.  What synagogue, Jewish organization or family hasn’t been waiting for the opportunity to have a member of their team drop by and pick up documents to shred?!

Extraordinary Ventures creates and operates businesses that provide meaningful employment for individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities. One business they operate in Westchester, NY is a gift business.  What Jewish family doesn’t need Yahrtzeit candles?  They carry two items, including a yahrtzeit candle with wildflower seed paper.  According to the description:  “Included in a silk bag with this elegant candle is a Star of David seed paper  to plant and grow wildflowers in loving memory.  A gift of natural beauty and compassion for a relative or a friend for the loss of a loved one.” 

I have been traveling the country and identifying dozens of businesses run by and/or employing people with disabilities.  Please check out the directory-in-process here.  I am happy to help you find companies and products.

Remember:  October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month—but every month is the month to address the very serious problem of unemployment and underemployment for people with disabilities! 

Howard Blas,
Director-National Ramah Tikvah Network
cell: 413-374-7210
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