The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (), the Ruderman Family Foundation, and the Government of announced a dramatic $12.5 million expansion of their Unlimited Partnership for Israeli adults with disabilities as a result of a new landmark $4 million lead grant from the Ruderman Family Foundation. The grant will further expand the Partnership’s groundbreaking work in inclusion, ensure a focus on employment (a key challenge in this community), and will be matched by and the Israeli government. Founded in 2009, Unlimited has reached tens of thousands of Israelis with disabilities to date and is dedicated to the inclusion of people with disabilities by empowering them to advocate on their own behalf and live independently, and by highlighting their integral role as Israeli citizens.

‘We want to be second to none in its inclusion of people with disabilities throughout society. Our strategic effort has enabled the implementation of nation-wide change through innovative programs that ensure, above all, that people with disabilities are full members of ‘s national tapestry,’ said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation. ‘As we move into our next phase, we will build on our past successes and further promote the notion that people with disabilities are people with abilities.’

In the past three years, Unlimited — which was launched through an initial $6 million from the partners -; has expanded services for Israelis with significant disabilities, including those who are homebound, through localized increases in services, including transportation and home care. It has focused on programs for Israeli Arabs and immigrants with disabilities and initiatives to prevent violence against people with disabilities by family or caregivers. Additionally, it launched a public program for Israelis with and without disabilities to collaborate on street performances and other events that demonstrate the challenges and positive contribution of people with disabilities.

‘We are proud to continue our transformative work with the Ruderman Family Foundation and the Israeli government. As one of the largest minority groups in , people with disabilities need a new generation of services that advance independent living and ensure total participation in ‘s civic life — we are dedicated to delivering on that promise,’ said Alan Gill, ‘s Incoming CEO, and one of the architects of Unlimited.

In the next stage, the partners will focus on employment for people with disabilities through and the Government of ‘s Tevet employment initiative; ensuring accessible housing and services that promote independent living; expanding person-centered services and focusing on new groups like Haredim (Ultra Orthodox Jews) with disabilities; and developing projects that help adults with disabilities cope with loneliness. Additionally, new public awareness campaigns about people with disabilities will reinforce the overall message of inclusivity and acceptance.

‘I would like to commend the partnership for people with disabilities between the Welfare Ministry, , and the Ruderman Family Foundation. This partnership promotes their status and develops services to advance the inclusion of people with disabilities in society,’ said Moshe Kahlon, Israeli Minister of Welfare and Social Services.

is home to nearly one million adults with disabilities, with nearly 20 percent having moderate to severe disabilities. More than 260,000 of those Israeli adults with disabilities are entitled to social security and the numbers are growing rapidly. At the same time, only 52 percent of people with disabilities in are employed, compared with 74 percent of the general population. And people with disabilities earn nearly 2,200 NIS less than the general population. Additionally, 40 percent of parents with disabilities have children under the age of 18, making the services provided by Unlimited invaluable.