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Scholarship eases access to Jewish education

BOSTON — The Morton E. Ruderman Inclusion Scholarship, now in its second year, is successfully making Jewish day school more accessible and affordable for children with disabilities. Cohen Hillel Academy in Marblehead is a partner in this initiative and is helping local students with disabilities break down barriers to receiving a Jewish education.

All of Greater Boston’s Jewish day schools offer generous financial assistance to qualified families. However, families with students who have disabilities and special needs often face additional education expenses. Since its launch last year, 194 new students are receiving tuition scholarships through the Morton E. Ruderman Inclusion Scholarship. Of those 194, 66 students are receiving ancillary services through generous Gateways scholarship support.

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Morton (Mort) Edward Ruderman was a successful entrepreneur, mentor and proud family man, born and raised in Malden. He saw his success as the result of help he received from others and was passionate about providing opportunities for others — including assisting many people to become independent and successful in business. The Boston Jewish community was important to him and he supported many local causes. Mort’s greatest concern was the existence of fairness and equal opportunity for all within the community. The Ruderman Family Foundation’s work to ensure the inclusion of people with disabilities, and the Scholarship itself, are the product of Mort’s passionate belief that their exclusion and absence from Jewish life is fundamentally unfair.

Ruderman’s daughter, Sharon Shapiro, is proud to offer this resource to families in the community in her father’s name.

“Our whole philosophy is that every Jewish child and Jewish person needs to be included fully in the community, whether it’s synagogue or school. We want to make sure every family who wants their child to have a Jewish education can, and that needing supportive services isn’t going to deter them,” Shapiro said. “It’s a wonderful way to continue my father’s legacy of inclusion and what he felt passionately about.”

A partnership between Combined Jewish Philanthropies and The Ruderman Family Foundation and in collaboration with Gateways: Access to Jewish Education, the $2.4 million scholarship program is part of a comprehensive five-year project, Building Inclusive Day Schools, that also supports early intervention school-based strategies for better serving students with diverse learning needs in day schools. In total, three million dollars in funding, distributed over five years, will enable Greater Boston day schools to significantly defray the cost of special education services (both school-based and ancillary services), for students of families in need of financial aid and expand the individualized learning opportunities for many students.   

Participating schools, in addition to Cohen Hillel Academy, include: BAIS Yaakov of Boston High School for Girls; Gann Academy; JCDS, Boston’s Jewish Community Day School; Maimonides School; MetroWest Jewish Day School; New England Hebrew Academy; Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Boston; Striar Hebrew Academy; The Rashi School; and Torah Academy.

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