Posted on November 5, 2016
The Temple Beth-El Sisterhood, a member of the Atlantic District of the Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ), is thrilled to share with the entire Temple Beth-El family that our own Lisa Friedman has been selected as this year’s recipient of the Jane Siegel Tikkun Olam Award. This award is presented at each WRJ district’s biennial convention to a woman within the district who “exemplifies the concept of helping to create a better world.” Past Atlantic District honorees include Karen Wolk Feinstein, president of the Jewish Healthcare Foundation of Pittsburgh and Rabbi Elyse Frishman, editor of Mishkan T’filah among other laudable women.
Earlier this year, our Sisterhood board submitted Lisa Friedman as our nominee for this year’s award, based on Lisa’s significant work with inclusive education. She is widely recognized in the field of Jewish education as a disability inclusion expert. Since joining the staff of Temple Beth-El in 2001, she has worked to ensure that every student inherits their birthright of learning Torah and connecting with their Jewish heritage.
Before coming to Temple Beth-El Lisa taught special education in a public school setting for six years, where she worked with children with cognitive, emotional and physical disabilities. She has an undergraduate degree in psychology and a master’s degree in counseling psychology, both from Rutgers University. Lisa completed the Leadership Institute, a joint program of Hebrew Union College and the Jewish Theological Seminary, in 2013.
Lisa is proud to serve on the URJ Ruderman Inclusion Advisory Council. She is also a member of Hineinu, an innovative collaboration of disability professionals from across Jewish movements who share resources, support and direction to increase inclusion in our synagogues for people of all abilities. Lisa has also worked with Behrman House to produce educational materials that meet diverse student needs, and was awarded the Behrman House Educator Award in 2009. She serves on the faculty of two URJ camps (URJ Camp Harlam and URJ Sci-Tech Academy) and has been involved with the leadership of Sci-Tech since its launch to ensure that it is a fully inclusive camp experience.
Lisa is frequently contacted by leaders of other congregations who wish to become more inclusive, and she has conducted numerous training sessions for faculties, madrichim (teen assistants) and lay leaders. She also blogs about disabilities and inclusion at Removing the Stumbling Block and has been published in a variety of publications, including Kveller, The New York Jewish Week’s New Normal Blog, Reform Judaism.org and the blog of The Religious Action Center.
Lisa will receive her award on Saturday, November 5 at a ceremony following a celebratory luncheon during the WRJ District Convention in Florham Park. A contingent of family, staff and Sisterhood members from Temple Beth-El look forward to sharing in her special day.
Mazal Tov Lisa
Originally published in the November-December 2016 issue of the Shofar. For more issues of the Shofar, visit the Shofar archives.