Over the past seven years, the Ruderman Family Foundation has supported the Ruderman Chabad Inclusion Initiative (RCII) in creating a culture of inclusion among Chabad communities throughout the world. Together, the two organizations provided educational programming and much-needed resources with a focus on strengthening the disability and mental health communities and ultimately, the greater Jewish community.
Their debut program: ShabbaTTogether.
ShabaTTogether is a global weekend highlighting disability inclusion and mental wellness occurring in over 800 communities on 6 continents in February to coincide with Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month (JDAIM) in communities around the world. This year, on February 18th, the 4th annual ShabbaTTogether event shines a spotlight on mental health, disability belonging, and diversity with two main programs, one targeting community leaders and one for community members.
The first program specifically geared towards Chabad community leaders is an Inclusion Learning process that will consist of training related to mental health and disabilities combined with practical steps towards inclusion in their communities.
The second program, which is directed at community members and aptly titled “One Thing I Wish You Knew,” invites participants from across the mental health and disability communities to share their journeys, struggles, personal experiences while offering words of hope, change, and empowerment in their communities.
The aim is to encourage diverse perspectives and to foster discussions on how our communities can come together to create a more inclusive environment for every person to create systemic change.
This program can be leveraged for all audiences on any topic that is of importance to that group. The shared perspectives are the foundation for building a culture of belonging in our communities and the resultant changes exponential.
“One Thing I Wish You Knew” is directly in line with the foundation and core mission of Chabad- to value each person based on their innate purity – their souls. This underlying uniting factor of the value and unique contributions of each individual to the world around them is highlighted by this program and aims to empower community members to be allies while simultaneously creating an environment of inclusion, openness, and support.
“We focus on this value as it relates to the disability community by creating opportunities for people with and without disabilities to interact and recognize each person’s unique value instead of our perceived differences and to bridge the gap by creating meaningful relationships that enhance the lives of everyone involved,” says Rabbi Levi Shemtov, founder and board member of Friendship Circle International. “Our organization continues to grow in order to support Chabad houses across the globe in fostering a culture of belonging and inclusion.”
“The values of inclusion that the Rebbe championed are inherent to the philosophy of Chabad,” shares Rabbi Shmaya Krinsky of Machne Israel. “This new partnership will build on the work that the RCII has accomplished heretofore with educating community leaders on this vital issue, and take it to the next level.”