Andrew Solomon, Ph.D., is a writer and lecturer on politics, culture
and psychology, and winner of the National Book Award. He is Professor of Clinical Medical Psychology (in Psychiatry) at Columbia University Medical Center. His best-selling book Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity (Scribner, 2012), tells the stories of families raising exceptional children who not only learn to deal with their challenges, but also find profound meaning in doing so. "Far from the Tree" is also a documentary.
Rachel Kest has worked in the Jewish community in a variety of settings for more than 25 years. She has elevated the importance of inclusion in the Rochester Jewish community, making great strides in sharing the view of inclusion as a mindset rather than as an accommodation. Rachel is guided by the belief that one's faith community – more than any other place – should be
inclusive, provide support for and celebrate the diversity of all of its constituents.
Dori has served as Matan's Executive Director for the past eleven years. Under Dori's leadership, Matan has shifted from a local, direct service organization in the New York Metro area to one which significantly impacts the field of Jewish Disability Inclusion across North America. Dori believes that we ALL must be part of the solution of making inclusion a reality.
Matan was created in the year 2000 to address the lack of Jewish educational opportunities afforded to children with special needs. Originally created as a "direct service" organization in the New York Metropolitan area, Matan's efforts currently support Jewish communal professionals, educators, lay leaders, clergy, administrators and others in addressing the needs of individuals with a wide variety of learning, developmental and mental health challenges across North America. Through training, original educational resources/curricula and consultations, Matan enables Jewish professionals, communities and families to create and sustain inclusive settings in educational, communal and spiritual aspects of Jewish life.
In the past year alone, Matan has trained over 3,000 Jewish leaders and educators, enabling them to welcome and support diverse individuals in formal and informal Jewish life. Nearly 100,000 people – from Detroit to Dallas, Cherry Hill to Chicago and beyond - experience inclusive Jewish communities because of Matan's efforts. While the world has changed dramatically in the past year, the Jewish community's recognition of accessibility needs - and therefore the demand for Matan's services - has only increased.
As we celebrate the accomplishments of the past twenty years, we prepare for a future in which Matan's impact continues to grow, and sets the standard for Jewish disability inclusion across North America.