Director's Report
Jewish United Fund | Together for Good
December 12, 2019

Director's Report

A recent article in the Chicago Tribune, “Why adults with developmental disabilities are waiting seven years, or longer, for programs they need to live on their own,” shined much needed light on the State of Illinois’ disastrous and shameful system of funding and services for adults with intellectual/development disabilities. 

It is staggering for many to learn that there are nearly 20,000 people in the State who are on waitlists for adult programs. The article highlighted one young man, Nick Redfern, who is 25 years old and has been on the waitlist for funding for seven years.  Nick’s parents cannot afford the one-on-one attention Nick requires.  As a result, since completing his high school transition program, Nick has become increasingly isolated and has lost many of the skills he acquired in school.  According to his mother, “He wants to be helpful, do things and be productive; there isn’t that much that I can get going for hm and it’s frustrating for me and I think it is for him too.”

While it is admittedly uncomfortable to be confronted with the magnitude of need, and to hear the tragic personal narratives that unfold because of the decay and neglect that define our State’s system, articles like this raise awareness and can inspire us to galvanize, to come together as Jews to do more and better.

Adults with disabilities, including those in the Jewish community, who cannot afford employment and/or residential services without State funding, are at risk for poverty and homelessness.  This state of affairs is anathema to our Jewish values which recognize each person’s civil right to be part of the community and call upon us to meet the needs of the most vulnerable.  Jewish texts and teachings from Isaiah and Leviticus, among others, are clear on these points. “All Israel is responsible for one another; do not curse a person who is deaf or place a stumbling block before the blind.”  

Consistent with our values and teaching, JUF has elevated its work to meet the needs of adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities in important and impactful ways.  The Jewish Community Fund for Adults with Disabilities is an endowment fund that has been established, with an initial fundraising goal of $10 million, to provide funding for adults who cannot afford the services they need and deserve.  We are well on our way to meeting this goal; please contact me if you haven’t participated and would like to be part of our community’s effort to address these needs.

Beyond fundraising, JUF and Encompass are working to create inclusive social opportunities so that adults will not be relegated to spending time alone in their homes.  We are leveraging JUF’s  support for organizations that engage Jewish millennials, including OneTable, Moishe House, Base Hillel, ChiTribe and many others.  Professionals from these organizations will come together with professionals from our partner agencies in January for a day of networking and training on inclusion and belonging.  These connections will result in a broad and deep range of social opportunities for Jewish adults with disabilities, enhancing their lives even while awaiting services.

Perhaps what will spur us to act is the stark realization that disability is not about the “other”.  Whether one of the increasing number of people born with a disability or adjusting to the new normal of an emergent disability that inevitably comes with aging, none of us is immune.

No matter why you are called to act, my hope for the New Year is that you will join with JUF and Encompass so that we can all “behold how good and pleasant it is when all people live together as one. “

Jodi Newmark, Director


Spotlight On........Synagogue Inclusion

It is possible to transform the lives of people with disabilities as evidenced by the impact of JUF and Encompass' Synagogue Inclusion Project.  This video highlights the amazing work being done by North Suburban Synagogue Beth El, whose Rabbi Michael Schwab chaired our community's initiative, and Am Yisrael.  These congregations are two of many in Chicagoland who have taken important steps to make their houses of worship more welcoming and inclusive.


Hanukkah Happenings!

Temple Jeremiah’s Chanukah Celebration, Sunday, December 15 from 2:30-3:30 pm, 937 Happ Rd., Northfield
A celebration of Chanukkah designed for individuals with disabilities and their families and friends. All ages and abilities are invited. Music by Spice City DJs.

North Suburban Synagogue Beth El and HUGS presents a Hanukkah Festival of Lights, Wednesday, December 18 from 5:00 – 6:30pm
1175 Sheridan Road, Highland Park
Concert, candle lighting, dinner, cookie decorating, crafts & activities

KESHET ADULT HANUKKAH PARTY, December 19, 6-8pm at GADOL, 8180 McCormick Blvd., Skokie
$36/person. Registration deadline is December 19

Check out the ChiTribe Channukah Guide 2019 for a wonderful list of Hanukkah Events in Chicago featuring lights, spinning dreidel and cycling, menorah mindfulness, endless latkes, miraculous bar crawls and shpiritual Shabbat dinners hosted all over the city


Other Community Happenings!

Join the women of Yachad at Les Misérables on December 17th 

North Shore Center for Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie; A Chicago Women’s Charity Players adaptation  For more information, contact Dina Baker, Program Coordinator, Chicago Yachad, 312-218-8242,

Linkages: Programs to assist seniors who have children with disabilities to address the issues, needs and concerns of their family

Future Planning: Issues for Seniors with Adult Children with Disabilities
December 12, 2019, 10:30 am – noon
3003 W Touhy Ave in Chicago

Presented by Mollie Whitehead, Partner, Whitehead Fink Elder Law, LLC
Topics will include: Trust Administration, Estate Planning, Wills, Power of Attorney and Financial Planning

Benefits and Support Services for Older Adults and People with Disabilities

January 9, 2020, 10:30 am – noon

3003 W Touhy Ave in Chicago

Presented by  Esther Craven, Resource Specialist, CJE SeniorLife and Helen Grimaldi, Manager, CJE Care Management

Learn about benefits and long term support services available in the community for older adults and people with disabilities, including: Medicare; RTA Reduce Fare, Ride Free and ADA Paratransit; Community Care Program; DHS’s Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS); and Medicare Medicaid Alliance Initiative (MMAI)

To register or to request special accommodations, please contact Linkages: 773.508.1106 or



Building Community, One Person at a Time: Going Beyond Inclusion to Inspire Belonging

Professional Development Training and Networking Opportunity

Designed For Jewish Communal Professionals Working With Young Adults (22-40ish)

Tuesday, January 28, 9:00 am to 1:30 p.m.

JUF, 30 South Wells, 6th Floor

Presented by JUF and Encompass Agency Partner Professionals from JCFS Chicago, Keshet and Libenu

Learn about and explore: Disability in the Young Adult Jewish Community; those impacted and the agencies who provide services; making your organization welcoming for people of all abilities; strategies and tactics to address challenges and barriers; the path to belonging, attitudinal and behavioral shifts

 Workshops Include:

-Universal Design:  A Foundational Approach to Planning and Hosting an Event  Shana Erenberg, Ph.D., Executive Director and Lisette Zaid, Development Manager, LIBENU

-Fostering Enhanced Engagement:  Creating A Greater Sense of Belonging for Everyone  Jen Phillips, Chief Program Officer, Heather Rosenblatt, Adult Recreation Program Manager, and Debbie Harris, Director Pritzker Pucker Consulting, KESHET

-Committing to a Deeper Dive on the Path to Belonging, Allison Rodenhouse, LCSW, Director, Services for People with Disabilities and Tamara Besser, LCSW, JCFS Chicago

Kosher Continental Breakfast and Lunch (Free of Charge)

RSVP at:

Response required by December 19 to Alex Fuchsman at

Jewish Disability Advocacy Day – February 4, 2020

The tenth annual Jewish Disability Advocacy Day (JDAD) is now less than two months away on February 4th, 2020. Register soon as space is filling up.


Educational Opportunities

The Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation 2020 Public Policy Fellowship Program [link to attached document] is a one-year, full-time, intensive immersion experience in Washington, D.C. The purpose of the Fellowship is to prepare emerging leaders to assume leadership roles in the public policy arena at the state and/or national levels. During this one-year Fellowship, the successful applicant will learn how federal legislation is initiated, developed, and passed by the Congress, as well as how programs are administered and regulations promulgated by federal agencies.   Fellows also learn how the organized disability community works to shape public policy impacting people with disabilities, and their families. Apply online:

SARTAC – Self Advocacy Resource and Technical Assistance Center [link to attached document and/or webpage: ]

The SARTAC Fellowship is a year-long opportunity for self-advocates to develop and grow their skills as leaders in the self-advocacy movement. Fellows work with a supporting host organization on policy issues or a project that can help develop their leadership skills.

Deadline to apply: Wednesday, December 18, 2019, 5 pm (Pacific time)

Encompass is in partnership with:
Encompass Partners
Contact Jodi Newmark:  |   312-357-4959