Celebrating Inclusion, Creating a Welcoming Jewish Community

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Sam Busis and his dad, Richard Busis, at Sam’s apartment through the JCHAI apartment program.

For more than a century, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia has embraced three key roles: community convener, fundraiser and grant-maker. We Carry the Light for Philadelphia by mobilizing financial and volunteer resources to address our community’s most critical priorities locally, in Israel and around the world.

This year, the Jewish Federation has been exploring our promise to lead our community through giving, inclusion and tradition. Throughout the year, we are focusing on each of those qualities and, in turn, delving into what they mean to our communities and sharing stories of individuals and families who exemplify them. Most recently, we have explored the issue of inclusion.

At the Jewish Federation, inclusion means creating a welcoming community in Greater Philadelphia that engages its members — regardless of background, beliefs, abilities or orientation — and that provides fundamental intellectual, emotional and vocational programs that nourish full and dignified lives. Inclusion means reaching beyond Philadelphia to assist programs that do the same in Israel and in Jewish communities around the world.

We introduced the Busis family — 30-year-old Sam and his parents, Richard and Judy. Sam is fortunate to be part of Jewish Federation-supported JCHAI, which provides supportive living arrangements for adults and teaches them essential life skills. Sam has flourished and has been able to live independently for nearly eight years thanks to JCHAI.

Sam Busis at Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El, where he works as a teacher’s assistant in one of the pre-K classes.

Sam has his own apartment, makes his own breakfasts and lunches, and eats dinner most nights with staff and other residents. He has two jobs, and he enjoys going to the movies and the mall with his friends. He is part of a warm community that appreciates and loves him.

For Sam and thousands of people living with disabilities, the Jewish Federation is committed to making our promise of an inclusive community a reality. Working with partner agencies like JCHAI across Philadelphia, we provide support that enables people of all abilities to reach their full potential and become more integrated into the community at large. An inclusive community is a richer, more engaging place to live. And when we amplify diverse Jewish voices, we create an atmosphere where everyone can have a seat at the table and take part in the dialogue.

Making everyone welcome will always be a Jewish Federation priority, and our work in this area continues as we wind down our highlight on inclusion. We are fortunate to live in a community that cares so deeply about each member and their needs. That’s part of our Philadelphia tradition, one that goes back to the Jewish Federation’s founding in 1901 and even further.

Next, we will highlight the role of tradition in our communities. The Jewish Federation strengthens traditions and values by supporting programs that help Philadelphia’s Jews deepen their connection to Jewish life and contribute to the vibrancy of our people and our future.

At the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, we celebrate giving, inclusion and tradition every day on social media. Connect with us and see for yourself how we Carry the Light! Like us on Facebook, talk to us on Twitter and follow us on Instagram.