Friday, February 5, 2016

The Ruderman Foundation: Friend or foe?

My daughter honors Jewish Disabilities
Awareness Month with a new pair of
Set aside a bit of time and thought this month for our citizens with disabilities because February is Jewish Disabilities Awareness Month.

Sadly, the Israeli media doesn't see any point in doing that. That should come as no surprise: for the most part, the local media only address the topic of disabilities, almost exclusively, when Israel's largest chain of closed institutions for the disabled, Aleh, submits one of its duplicitous PR releases.

So I was only reminded of February's significance by an article in the American Jewish newspaper, The Forward, "How We're Failing Jews with Disabilities". It was sympathetic to people with disabilities and pulled no punches in assessing the Jewish community's inclusion of them.

First it conceded that "some progress has been made" and gave a thumbs up to three organizations, one of them, the Ruderman Foundation which, it said, "has funded meaningful disability inclusion programs in each of the major Jewish movements, as well as in important Jewish organizations like Hillel International."

It  should be emphasized that the writer himself, Ari Ne'eman, reveals that he won the Morton E. Ruderman Award in Inclusion from the Ruderman Family Foundation.

Hmmm. Do you see impartiality exiting the stage?

This is significant because the Ruderman Foundation passionately supports the institutionalization of people with disabilities here in Israel. On its very own site, it posted the following glorification of Aleh, king of institutionalization. Bear in mind that this solution to the care of people with disabilities would not exist in the United States where institutionalization has been nearly eradicated. (See my earlier post: "Aleh 101".)

In fact on its website, the Ruderman Foundation posted the following glorification of Aleh. Needless to say, it was written by ALEH’s Marketing Communications and Corporate Relations Manager, Sharon Hadani Dayan. Entitled, "Positive Impact", it is the standard fare that Aleh tirelessly serves up to the public:
ALEH’s prisoner rehabilitation program is a perfect example of the positive impact that people with disabilities can have on society at large.
ALEH, Israel’s largest network of facilities for children with severe physical and cognitive disabilities, developed an award-winning prisoner rehabilitation program that allows those serving long sentences for non-violent crimes to volunteer once a week with ALEH residents in the Negev (southern Israel).
The program is run exclusively at ALEH Negev-Nahalat Eran, a cutting-edge rehabilitative village for Israelis with a severe disability that was founded by Major General (res.) Doron Almog.
As usual, this PR release lauds the benefits that the prisoners reap from their participation therein.
And, as usual, it utterly ignores the exploitation of this program's silent, vulnerable "subjects", the institutionalized citizens.

The Ruderman Foundation has fostered institutionalization in even more insidious ways than by posting Aleh's gobbledygook on its website.

It finances NGO's espousing credos that are diametrically opposed to those of Aleh:  inclusion and in-community living for people with disabilities. In so doing, the  Ruderman Foundation has silenced their criticism of Aleh.

One such organization which formerly published scathing attacks on Aleh's institutions never mentions the issue any more. When I questioned that blatant 180, its employees candidly, perhaps somewhat shamefacedly, told me that with Ruderman's generous funding they simply couldn't  denounce Ruderman.

Clearly, as a an uncontested champion of the disabled, Ruderman's support for Aleh has been invaluable to its growth. It has also singlehandedly, impeded the inclusion and deinstitutionalization more than any other single body.

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