Four Questions with philanthropist Jay Ruderman

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created at: 2011-10-19Jay Ruderman is the president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, a leading funder of disability advocacy in the Jewish community and programs strengthening the relationship between Israelis and American Jews. Although originally from Massachusetts, Jay now lives in Rehovot, Israel. He blogs at Zeh Lezeh (For One Another) and is currently preparing for the second annual Advance Conference focused on funding Jewish special needs initiatives.



Why has advocacy for Jewish people with disabilities become so central to your philanthropy?

The Ruderman Family Foundation believes that inclusion of people with disabilities is essential if we are to be proud of our Jewish community. As Jews, we can’t be proud of the type of relationship we have with each other and with our brothers in Israel if some members of the Jewish community are left out, and that is exactly the situation that we face today. Jewish people with disabilities do not have the same opportunities as everyone else and that is fundamentally unfair. They don’t have the same opportunities for employment – many Jews with disabilities are unemployed – and they don’t have the same opportunities for education and even to being connected with their faith. It is not consistent with our beliefs as a community; it is not consistent with the Talmud.  Continue reading A Provocative Collected Stories at the New Rep

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created at: 2011-10-18The teacher-student relationship is held in such high esteem in Jewish tradition that our sages compare it to that of a parent and child. But as students progress, they can become colleagues and even rivals to their former mentors. This challenging dynamic is at the heart of Collected Stories, the 1997 play by Donald Margulies now playing at the New Repertory Theatre in Watertown.

Collected Stories largely succeeds on the strength of its two dynamite performers, Liz Hayes as emerging writer Lisa Morrison and Bobbie Steinbach as her mentor, Ruth Steiner. Steinbach creates a figure who is equal parts Philip Roth and Elaine Stritch; a figure to be reckoned with, surely, but she doesn’t overwhelm the stage. Her measured delivery makes it clear that Ruth is a thinker, sometimes to the point of thinking away her emotions.

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