Eleven synagogues in Greater Boston were selected to become Congregational Partners of the Ruderman Synagogue Inclusion Project (RSIP), a collaboration between Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP), and the Ruderman Family Foundation. Together, they are working to create communities where people of all abilities are welcomed to fully participate in congregational life. The synagogues and minyanim include: Temple B’nai Abraham, Beverly; Congregation Mishkan Tefila, Minyan Kol Rinah, Washington Square Minyan, Brookline; Tremont Street Shul, Cambridge; Temple Kol Tikvah, Sharon; Temple B’nai Brith, Somerville; Chabad of the North Shore, Swampscott; Temple Beth Israel, Waltham; Temple Shir Tikva, Wayland; and Temple Hillel B’nai Torah, West Roxbury.
The congregations were recognized at a community event Wednesday, May 22 at Temple Emanuel in Newton. Retired Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, one of the great champions of disability rights, was the keynote speaker. Senator Harkin discussed how faith communities play a unique role in supporting those with disabilities.
Harkin was joined by Jay Ruderman, Ruderman Family Foundation President, Rabbi Marc Baker, CJP president and chief executive officer, and Sarah Abramson, Senior Vice President, Strategy and Impact, CJP. A mother from Temple Beth Zion in Brookline also shared her inclusion story.
The Ruderman Synagogue Inclusion Project provides partner synagogues with funding and other resources to support innovative programs, improvements, or training to become more welcoming and inclusive. Since its inception five years ago, the project has grown from three to 52 participating congregations. The Ruderman Synagogue Inclusion Project crosses denominations, bringing rabbis from all streams of Judaism together to collaborate and identify significant action to make Jewish life more inclusive.
“The impact of the Ruderman Synagogue Inclusion Project has been incredible,” said Sharon Shapiro, Trustee and Director of the Ruderman Family Foundation Boston Office. “Through this work, we have infused inclusion into dozens of synagogues, touching the lives of thousands of families. We have worked with congregations that are big and small, that represent all denominations, and that span the Greater Boston area. Last year, we started to focus on mental health, and are thrilled to see synagogue leaders and community members embrace the issue. With this work, synagogues are fulfilling their potential to be vibrant, welcoming, and inclusive for all.”
Rabbi Yossi Lipsker, founder of Chabad of the North Shore, added, “Chabad of the North Shore is so proud to partner with the Ruderman Synagogue Inclusion Initiative. We are always reaching for an environment that pulsates with the rhythms and rituals of our collective experience, yet still manages to foster a space that encourages each individual to ‘run the course at their own pace.’ We believe that the strength of the whole is determined by the comfort level of each individual. This exciting partnership offers us a wide array of resources, enabling us to drill even deeper into this approach. We are delighted to be included.”
“Temple B’nai Abraham is an inclusive Jewish Community embracing spirituality, education, and social action, striving to be accessible to all,” said Rabbi Alison Adler of Temple B’nai Abraham in Beverly. “Striving for accessibility is only part of our path toward being an inclusive Jewish Community. With help from the Ruderman Synagogue Inclusion Project, we are actively working toward our goals, creating meaningful, powerful, and lasting relationships in our community.”
Through RSIP, congregations gain access to local and national inclusion experts, as well as events and opportunities for congregational communities to teach, network and share best practices.
“RSIP casts a wide net and is one of the few places where synagogues and prayer communities of all denominations and affiliates gather to focus around inclusion,” said RSIP Manager Molly Silver. “We are proud the entire 384 Harvard Campus in Brookline is now an RSIP Campus, with Congregation Mishkan Tefillah, Minyan Kol Rinah, the Washington Square Minyan and Minyan Shaleym joining Congregation Kehillath Israel as members of the RSIP Cohort. The grants these communities will receive will benefit their individual communities and will enable the 384 Harvard Campus to share resources for educational programming.”