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Slifka Foundation gives $5 million to establish Greater Boston Jewish day school inclusion initiative

Barbara Edwards, a learning specialist at Gateways: Access to Jewish Education, works with a student. Gateways, Boston’s regional Jewish special education agency, will facilitate local outreach for the new inclusion program.

MARCH 29, 2018 – Combined Jewish Philan­thropies, Boston’s Jewish Federation, announced that the Alfred and Gilda Slifka Foundation has pledged a $5 million gift to create The Fred and Gilda Slifka Family Day School Inclusion Initiative, a comprehensive inclusion initiative to be housed at MetroWest Jewish Day School in Framingham and another local Jewish day school to be announced at a later date.

Establishing this crucial initiative within the two k-8 schools will enable the Jewish day school system in Greater Boston to accommodate an even broader array of learners and their families than was previously possible, providing access for students with moderate to significant learning challenges. The program’s fully inclusive philosophy strives to establish Jewish day school options where all students, including those with learning disabilities, succeed and flourish within the regular educational framework of school.

CJP, MetroWest Jewish Day School, and Gateways: Access to Jewish Education, Boston’s regional Jewish special education agency, will co-create the specific elements of The Fred and Gilda Slifka Family Day School Inclusion Initiative. In designating MetroWest Jewish Day School as the initial program site, CJP and the Slifka Foundation recognize the significant strides toward inclusion already made by the school, whose mission is centered around excellence in individualized education. The Initiative will be staffed by a team of experienced teachers, special educators and allied educational service providers (e.g., speech and language pathologists, occupational therapists, psychologists). Gateways will facilitate local outreach to identify families and students who may be suitable for the program and will also provide the initiative with ongoing consultation services.

Established in memory of the late Alfred Slifka – who along with his wife Gilda Slifka, was a long-term supporter of Jewish day schools and equal access to day school education for students of all abilities – The Fred and Gilda Slifka Family Day School Inclusion Initiative at MetroWest Jewish Day School will be a fully integrated special education initiative grounded in the best practice of inclusion for those students with moderate to significant learning challenges.

“The creation of this initiative will expand upon the culture of inclusion in Jewish day school education in Boston spearheaded by the Ruderman Family Foundation beginning over a decade ago.

“Nothing would have pleased Fred more than to see our Foundation work with CJP to jump start such an impactful program,” said Gilda Slifka. “He believed, as I do, that inclusion policies and practices benefit the entire school, not just the children with learning challenges, and that it is the responsibility of Jewish day schools to develop and provide programs that will help a broader array of student learners reach their full potential educationally.”

Families interested in learning more about enrollment in the Fred and Gilda Slifka Family Day School Inclusion Initiative should contact Sharon Goldstein at Sharong@jgateways.org, 617-630-9010 x106, or Beth Null at beth.null@mwjds.org, 508-620-5554 x105.

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