Michael Boussina Inclusion Program

About Jewish Learning Works:

About Jewish Learning Works:Jewish Learning Works (JLW) advances Jewish learning that enriches lives, and that enables the learner to flourish as a human being and as a Jew. JLW accomplishes its mission by empowering educators and parents and by operating the Jewish Community Library. For over 100 years, JLW has served as an essential foundation for Jewish education in the Bay Area. Today JLW builds on that rich tradition with a refined focus. JLW also provides professional learning for Jewish Educators. They employ the best thinking from inside and outside of the Jewish world to develop Jewish education that serves the needs of 21st-century students. By supporting parents, families are empowered. Parents are the ultimate Jewish educators. JLW applies the wisdom of our tradition to deepen their impact on families, the community, and the world. JLW is supported by the Jewish Community Federation & Endowment Fund, private foundations, individu-al donors, and fees for tuitions and service.

The JLW offers resources for the community and parents, including:

Special Needs Inclusion - Jewish LearningWorks serves families with children who have special needs. With the goal of fostering an environment of warmth, acceptance, and meaningful inclusion in the Jewish community, JLW provides resources and training to educators to develop programming designed with the needs of different types of learners explicitly in mind. They host Special Needs Family Camp, have pro-duced activity pages for kids, host workshops for educators and have a robust online resource for families with children with special needs.

To learn more about the ways we're empowering parents, email Deb Fink - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

@Home Parent Guides - These printable resource guides support parents with young children as they enrich their families’ celebration of holidays and their experience of Jewish life. They empower parents with “how to” information crafted with pluralistic, inclusive and nonjudgmental language. Through sto-ries, songs, art, movement, recipes and social action projects, families explore traditions, values, rituals, community engagement and more. The JLW’s concierges build relationships, offer consultations, provide skills training, and refer parents to educational programs through local Jewish organizations. Parents re-port that this one-on-one support is pivotal in helping them build Jewish homes.

INCLUDE Family Camp Flyer
Michael enjoying time with a JLW Camp counselor
Michael enjoying time with a JLW Camp counselor

JLW: INCLUDE Family Camp - Every spring and summer, The Jewish Learning Works offers programs filled with outdoor games, arts and crafts, hiking, yoga, music & more! Located at the lovely Walker Creek Ranch on 1700 Marshall Petaluma Road in Petaluma, CA, the Family Camp is sure to be nourish-ing to the mind, body, and soul.

Each year, children with special needs and their siblings, parents, and grandparents enjoy three days of community, creativity, and fun in a Jewish setting at Special Needs Family Camp. Together they partici-pate in Jewish communal and lifecycle events and worship services. They attend workshops, relax, find support, and share experiences.

INCLUDE Family Camp is a magical weekend for all attendees. It gives families the chance to play and recharge while strengthening their ties with Judaism and meeting and bonding with other families who share the same joys and challenges. Siblings and campers challenge themselves and make new friends while engaging in outdoor and indoor activities with the support of trained staff.

It’s important to note that the family camp truly does mean FAMILY! The JLW recognizes the problem of siblings of those with disabilities feeling neglected. Siblings are at a greater risk than average of de-veloping emotional issues, anxiety, and stress. They may also become overly responsible or protective of their brother/sister at the expense of their own well-being. By acknowledging siblings’ unique situa-tions and roles in their families, the family camp practices inclusion even for those who don’t have dis-abilities.

“Normal” school and after-school programs can seem like an out of control merry go round to children with special needs. Confusing instructions, activities at a breathless pace, vague expectations—all of these can lead to an overwhelming sense of panic and isolation for children dealing with everything from autism to sensory processing issues. “A tone of voice that sounds normal to typical students may come across as urgent or frustrated to those with special needs,” David Neufeld, director of special needs activities at JLW explains. Jewish institutions try to include all Jewish children, but a lack of spe-cialists still leads to misunderstandings and feelings of exclusion. One mom, whose son was diagnosed with ADHD and anxiety, commented:

“We were shushed by other congregants, kind of shamed and shushed [and ejected from child care during High Holy Day services]. We were kind of feeling like we were being kicked when we needed support.”

Here’s where Jewish Learning Works’ INCLUDE program comes in! The INCLUDE program (which is currently under expansion) helps Peninsula-area synagogues, preschools, and day schools serve children of different abilities (the program soon will expand to the East Bay and Marin). Neufield explains that “simple steps, like creating a quiet room where children can retreat during services or community events if they feel overwhelmed, can make a huge difference in making families feel supported and welcomed.” He further recommends that institutions “raise awareness about disabilities, so if a child is being noisy, for example, others in the community will not interpret it as misbehavior.”

Sadly, there will be no Include Family Camp in 2019 Please support JLW: Include Family Camp for a possible return in 2020