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October 24, 2014     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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October 24, 2014

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, OCTOBER 24, 2014 PAGE 15A RAISE From page IA gram coordinator, will be presenting the program in a TED-style format at one of the FEDovationbreakoutsessions. At this year's GA confer- ence, there will be much discussion and recognition of the inclusion of individu- als with disabilities and their families into "the mosaic that is Judaism," as described in the GAprogram seminar titled Disability Inclusion and the Federation Movement: Why, How, And the Time is Now. The GA explains that a com- munity that allows "disability inclusion" is "an inclusive community.., that accepts the role each individual plays in the community, welcomes everyone with respect and dignity, and celebrates diver- sity while creating a sense of unity." Since RAISE was started lastApril, three new employees have come onboard, and one employee was hired by a local law firm for a permanent posi- tion. In addition, RAISE has added anew assistant librarian position at the Jewish Academy of Orlando and a preschool assistant at the Roth JCC. London also has beenworking with Kinneret and UCF Hillel with plans for the eventual addition of more jobs. At this time, Heritage would like to introduce our readers to five of these out- standing employees and their job coaches. Each employee is paid to work one to two days a week for 3 hours each in either the same position or in two different positions. Matthew works in the JFS Orlando food pantry and inthe JCC fitness center. His lob coaches were originally Renee Roberts and Lois Tannenbaum, although Matthew is now working in- dependently inboth positions. When entering the Roth JCC, the smiling face that greets you at the reception desk twice a week is Jamie. Her job coaches are Joy Clark, Polly Pollak and Robin War- ner, who just recently joined the RAISE team. Michael works at the re- ception desk at JFS and also does miscellaneous office work there. His job coaches are Sandy Osborn and Bon- nie Finfer. Rob recently accepted a job with a law firm but previ- ouslyworked at the JCC fitness center coached by Barbara Weinreich. Erica works at the JCC preschool with Marlene Volk on Wednesdays and at the Jewish Academy library with Tannenbaum on Thursdays. The two newest employees are Cameron who works at the JCC preschool with Sue Checefsky and Weinreich, and Travis who works at the JCC fitness center with Roberts. The job coaches don't re- ally "work" with the employ- ees. They are there to help if needed--to coach them along. And as each employee becomes more independent, the coaches step back a little more. The employees are glad to have the coaching, as Jamie said, "I love my job coaches and they are very helpful to me." All of the coaches are vol- unteering their time, which is usually three to six hours a week, and each has different reasons for doing so. Tannenbaum shared what some of the other coaches felt: "As a member of the Jewish community, I believe in tzedakah. My belief in the mission and my desire to make a difference fulfills a personal need." Weinreich serves on the JFGO board of directors and voted that the Federation should support it. "Therefore, I feel I should put some per- sonal effort into seeing that is succeeds." Some of the coaches are retired professionals. "In my case, volunteering with RAISE allows me to keep my professional mind/experience active," said Sandy Crlder. Sue Checefsky worked in the public school system in Exceptional Student Educa- tion for 35 years. "I have witnessed the end of services to ESE adults, and then what? There is a lengthy wait list for support with state services, and even then there are 'in between' adults needing different support than what is currently offered," she explained, describing RAISE as a"one-of-a-kind" program. RAISE is filling avoid. It is a unique program that may venture into other Jewish communities after London Rob is shown working at the JCC fitness center. Michael is shown working at JFS Orlando's reception desk. shares the program at the GA gathering. All of the job coaches have seen improvement in the employees including inde- pendence and confidence in their jobs, developing social skills, staying focused on task and self-correcting if they fall off-task. "As they learn and earn, they're gaining self-respect, a valuable asset for all our citizens," said Weinreich. What value does RAISE bring to the community? "RAIS',E gives a purpose to life, coffers pride to the employeee and makes a dif- ference,"' said Tannenbaum. "The cormmunity will benefit from young adults who will enter the workforce and make us all proud." "I think RAISE is filling a voidwithin the life-experienc- es of individuals with special needs," said Sandy Grider. "Once these individuals age out of public education, there is little support for them to acquire employment beyond Cameron and Travis at a Lunch and Learn session. Jamie and Loren London, RAISE program coordinator at a Lunch & Learn session. a sheltered workshop. RAISE allows their employees to have the extra support they need to develop more independent work skills and confidence." Marlene Volk, who just started volunteering with RAISE in August put it simply, "I feel the program provides a path for persons with disabili- ties to achieve a purpose and to feel good about themselves in return." Local businesses that would like to consider hiring employees with disabilities can call Loren London at 407- 645-5933, ext. 236. Hillel From page 2A This year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Ne- tanyahu himself pledged millions in Israeli taxpayer dollars to the Diaspora, a portion of which is being al- located to American college campuses and to Birthright Israel, though the specifics remain unclear as to how that money will be spent. The fears that drive these efforts are not unfounded. Research suggests that young Jews are moving away from the idea that being Jewish and supporting Israel are inextricably linked. The recent Pew study on the American Jewish commu- nity found that 92 percent of American Jews aged 18 to 29 believe that people can be Jewish "if they are strongly critical of Israel." It remains to be seen just how reflective Open Hillel is of American Jew- ish college students. Does the movement represent a mainstream effort to break free from strictures imposed by Hillel International? Or is Open Hillel a niche group of activists representing only a small fraction of Jewish college students on the far- left fringe? Noam Neusner, a spokes- man for Hillel International, said that "the vast majority of Jewish students are in support of the guidelines." He also said that the orga- nizers of Open Hillel are "still part of the Hillel fam- ily," but said he found their complaints perplexing. "What's the issue here?" Neusner said. "What are they complaining about? Do they want Hillel to become a pro-BDS organization?" He did not directly ad- dress the issue of whether Hillel International would withdraw funding from campus Hillels that violate the partnership agreement. "We'll deal with those situations if and when they occur," he said. In contrast to Hillel International, conference organizers said that Open Hillel is representative of a significant portion of the Jewish student population. "There are definitely some students who would be uncomfortable if Hillel's partnership standards were done away with, but there are also many students who are uncomfortable with the status quo," said Sandra Korn, a recent Harvard alumna and conference organizer. About 25 Harvard stu- dents from an estimated undergraduate Jewish stu- dent population of 1,675 attended the conference. Students from dozens of colleges and universities across the country made up the majority of the 368 reg- istered attendees. Most were Jewish college students, though a group of Muslim students from Princeton University and Rabbi Joseph Kolakowski of Bethel, N.Y., who is anti-Zionist, also were among the attendees. "I was struck by how much at the conference could easily have happened at Harvard Hillel with no re- sistance whatsoever," Jonah Steinberg, Harvard Hillel's rabbi and director, told JTA via email. "We only refuse to host programs, events, and speakers whose aim is to promote the severing of our essential connection with Israel, which is the destructive goal of the BDS movement." Steinberg attended por- tions of the conference, as did Getzel Davis, the associate rabbi at Harvard Hillel, which adheres to the partnership rules. "Some really like them; some really don't," Davis said of the guidelines. "Where we are is where our consensus led us." The conference was en- tirely student-run and, aside from two small grants from Harvard, was funded through grassroots efforts. Of the more than $36,000 collected, the median do- nation was $35, organizers said. An array of organizations had tables at the event. They included educational institutions such as the Reconstructionist Rab- binical College, and dovish advocacy groups such as J Street U and the New Israel Fund, as well as groups more sharply critical of Israel, such as Tufts Students for Justice in Palestine and the International Jewish Anti- Zionist Network. Students and activists af- filiated with Jewish Voice for Peace had a strong showing. So, too, did students who are explicitly Zionist and personally oppose BDS efforts, but disagree with Hillel's partnership rules. Among them was Josh Wolfsun, a Swathmore junior, who helped draft and promote the declara- tion that his campus would house the first Open Hillel. "I don't violate any of the Standards of Partnership," Wolfsun told JTA. "But a lot of it was friends of mine and people I knew. A lot of it was Jewish friends of mine who weren't part of Swarthmore Hillel because they felt that the views that Hillel was drawing a line around and saying 'these are OK' didn't include their views." Sandalow-Ash echoed those sentiments. "It's a very weird thing as a student in a student group and in Hillel, which is supposed to be an organi- zation for college students, to have your programming constrained by people not on your campus saying we don't think Jewish students should hear what these people have to say," she said.