We are delighted to announce that Gesher School have partnered with The United Synagogue so that we can work together effectively, to make Jewish Communities more accessible, not only for our Gesher children, but for all children and adults with additional needs. In line with this, we have appointed Rivka Steinberg to harness the expertise of Gesher School and share it with our communities, in the role of Lead Advocate for Additional needs. She will be spending her time both at Gesher School and the Finchley US office.

In a previous chapter of my life, I spent many years working in scientific research. My interest in improving the quality of education and health services for children with Special Education Needs and Disability (SEND), developed, when my eldest daughter was diagnosed with a physical disability in 2005 and with it the requirement to become a strong advocate for all her additional needs. I trained with IPSEA (Independent provider of SEND legal advice) to develop a strong knowledge of the SEND legislation and I have used my broad knowledge and skills gained over many years, to advise parent carers on SEND matters. I have also worked for voluntary organisations, specialist settings and parent advocacy with Local Authorities.

My personal and professional experiences have seeded a desire and passion to share the knowledge acquired in my own journey and to work closely with leadership in the community, to enable all children and adults, to lead a high quality of life, regardless of their additional needs. This is all about breaking down barriers so that children and adults with needs, are more fully integrated and supported to embody Jewish life in ways that are meaningful to them without feeling compromised.

It is no longer enough that we raise awareness outside of Gesher School, neither can we allow this vital work to be regarded within the framework of a charitable agenda. Rather we need to actively share Gesher’s expertise and resources so communities will make room for difference, engaging wholeheartedly in access and inclusion work, so that children and adults will be enabled in all facets of Jewish community life. It’s about seeing the ‘ability’ in Disability.

I am very excited to be part of Gesher School and to really make a difference as the Lead Advocate for Additional Needs. Some of the projects we are looking at include:

  • Supporting the preparation of Inclusive services, Chagim, sessions and events
  • Sharing strategies, resources and tips
  • Engaging more members and families in US.

If you have any suggestions or you would just like to be in touch with me directly then please do reach out to me at [email protected].