Should Every Disabled Child Get a Jewish Education?

Day Schools and Families Grapple With Costs of Inclusion


By Seth Berkman and Anne Cohen

Published March 17, 2013, issue of March 22, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 4 of 5)

Wolf, the L.A. blogger who bypassed even applying to a Jewish school for her son with cerebral palsy, noted that he nevertheless has been able to stay involved in the Jewish community. He became a bar mitzvah in 2008.

It’s difficult to analyze whether Jewish day schools are trailing other schools in providing inclusion programs. Lichtman said that on the whole, Catholic schools were not doing a better job than Jewish day schools, but the cost is different. “Day school education, to begin with, is much more expensive,” he said. “So I’m not sure, even there, that it’s a fair comparison.”

Lichtman also did not think it was fair to compare Jewish day schools with public schools, which are mandated by law to serve children who have special needs. “They have an absolute legal obligation, and nobody else does,” he said. “It’s not just a Jewish problem, for sure, but certainly on the face of things, public schools are doing much more because they have to.”

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, founder and president of Laszlo Strategies, a consulting firm whose portfolio includes advocacy for children with disabilities, recently wrote an op-ed in the Forward, in which she strongly criticized the Jewish days schools’ collective performance. Inclusion has “never been made a priority in the Jewish community,” she said in a follow-up interview, while acknowledging that other faith-based communities are struggling to tackle the subject, as well.

“Imagine if that child was denied admittance because they were black; imagine if that child was denied admittance because the child was female,” said Mizrachi, who is also the parent of a child with a disability. “How would the community feel about that? Why would we allow an institution to say that the school won’t allow a person with disabilities?”

Mizrahi said she has had conversations with parents who offered full payment for inclusion services at a day school but were still met with refusal.

There are programs that appear to offer models for integrating religious and special education components. Boston’s Gateways program is often cited as one. It serves 140 students in seven day schools, providing them with on-site occupational therapists, speech and language therapists as well as learning specialists who assist throughout the day as needed. The program also trains teachers.

But Gateways charges notable fees in addition to already hefty day school tuitions. Those fees vary depending on the type of assistance needed. The program’s executive director, Arlene Remz, said weekly 30-minute speech-language therapy or occupational therapy sessions cost $1,650 per year, while a fully “supported inclusion” program costs about $16,000, not including the pay for a one-on-one aide.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Why does the leader of Israel's social protest movement now work in a beauty parlor instead of the Knesset?
  • What's it like to be Chagall's granddaughter?
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.