Posts tagged Howard Blas
Inclusion Comes from the Top – and the Bottom, and Middle

On a recent ten-day Tikvah Ramah Israel trip, twelve participants with disabilities, ages 18-40, were treated to a once-in-a-lifetime visit to a 1,000-soldier army base. Admittedly, other tour groups visit army bases; our group spent three hours at the MAZI/Bar-Lev base near Kiryat Milachi, where soldiers – in full uniform – with Down Syndrome, autism, and other intellectual disabilities are “just soldiers.”

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Jewish Camping for Young People with Disabilities

“Including campers with disabilities in summer camp is beneficial for campers with disabilities and neurotypical campers,” says Howard Blas, Director of the Tikvah Program at Camp Ramah in New England and the National Ramah Tikvah Network. In an article published earlier this year in The Canteen camp blog at, Blas encouraged parents to consider summer camping for their special needs children for the following reasons:

  • It offers fun, stimulating activities
  • Campers engage with friends and role models
  • It is an all-encompassing Jewish living environment
  • It is the next step toward independence
  • Camp (perhaps most importantly) offers parents a well-deserved and needed respite.
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Growth Continues in the Jewish Disabilities World

Two years ago, a delegation of Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) and Jewish Funders Network (JFN) members visited eight Jewish summer camps in the Northeast in three days. Despite their different locations (from Pennsylvania to Massachusetts), sizes, and movement affiliations, the camps had one important thing in common: They were successfully including campers with disabilities in the camp community.

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Ramah Expands Tikvah Network; Appoints Howard Blas as First Director

The National Ramah Commission has announced that Howard Blas has been appointed as the first Director of the National Ramah Tikvah Network, in order to promote the growth of programming for campers with disabilities within the Ramah movement and beyond. Blas, who has served as the Director of the Tikvah Program at Camp Ramah in New England for 14 years, is an award-winning disabilities educator who is widely recognized as a leading national expert and spokesperson on behalf of inclusion and Jewish education for young people with disabilities.

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Israeli emissaries at US summer camps wonder how best to serve

PALMER, Massachusetts — At Camp Ramah in New England this weekend, Israeli emissary Yakov described feeling very far away from what’s happening in Israel while sitting in the idyllic Massachusetts forest surrounding his Jewish sleep-away summer camp. He spoke about a disconnect with his otherwise peaceful town of Nazareth Ilit as tires burn in the nearby Arab village where he usually eats “the best shawarma in all of Israel.”

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