July 25, 2024
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Thousands Cast Their Votes for Winner of Dov Levy Prize

“All individuals, regardless of their level of ability, have the right to be fully included and respected.”—Rabbi Dov Levy, founder of the Seeach Sod Special Education Network in Israel

The Dov Levy Prize has been established to honor the person whose accomplishments and activities on behalf of individuals with disabilities best exemplify the values of the late Rabbi Dov Levy.

Eight nominees have been selected from around the world to compete for the prestigious award. These nominees have distinguished themselves by their activities on behalf of both children and adults with disabilities, and are helping to not only create a better future for special needs individuals but are changing the way society views people with disabilities. They have all found that children with disabilities have vast potential that can be cultivated with care and love.

Among the nominees are activists who have fought for special education funding in their communities, including New Jersey Assemblyman Gary Schaer. Very recently, Schaer secured a $4 million increase for special education as part of an unprecedented $130 million allocation to nonpublic schools in the Fiscal Year 2022. Schaer also utilized $240 million in funding through the School Development Authority to construct the Dayton Avenue Educational Campus. When the complex opens in 2022, it will guarantee that every student receives the specialized education they deserve.

Joint nominees Chaya Bender and Jenine Shwekey are the founders and directors of The Special Children’s Center in New Jersey and New York—state-of-the-art centers that services over 600 children with disabilities from the surrounding area. “We discovered that with the help of a loving hand, a special child can soar beyond his challenges and beyond expectations,” they said.

The youngest nominees are a group of local senior high school students—Gaby Gotesman, Maurice Korish, Ayelet Fischer, Max Leibenstern and Uriel Ostrin—who participated in Sinai Schools’ Inclusion by Design program. Sina’s “school within a school” special education model maximizes opportunities for social and academic inclusion, with the Inclusion By Design program serving as a highly effective channel to foster friendships between volunteers and students with disabilities.

Matan Koch, himself born with cerebral palsy, is one of America’s leading Jewish inclusion experts, working in conjunction with Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, founder of an organization that works toward creating systemic change in how society views and values people with disabilities.

From London, Chaya Tesler works to provide social opportunities as well as opportunities for growth, integration and acceptance for women with disabilities. There are also two nominees based in Australia: Stacey Lubofsky, who engages children with and without disabilities, thereby promoting inclusivity; and Dean Cohen, recipient of the Order of Australia medal, who provides varied social opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

By voting for their favorite candidate for the Dov Levy Prize, Jerusalem Post readers can honor the individual who is making a difference in the lives of the disabled. At the same time, they enter a drawing to win a free round-trip ticket to Israel on El Al.

Since 1971, Seeach Sod has been providing cutting-edge therapies and education for children with disabilities in Israel. The organization continues to accompany the children to adulthood and beyond, providing vocational and housing frameworks as well as a community. In the course of these 50+ years, Seeach Sod has become a leader in the field of special education and integration, developing innovative solutions to bring out the full potential of individuals with special needs and to enhance their quality of life.

By Hadassah Bay

 

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