Sixth Annual GISHA Conference:
The Inclusion Capacity: Building Capacity for Inclusivity in Jewish Education

The 2014 GISHA conference on May 4-5, will offer attendees the newest strategies and tools to help build the capacity to create inclusive classrooms and programs. Participants will hear from a variety of experts on topics such as:

  • Designing a multisensory classroom for teaching Hebrew reading
  • Managing difficult behaviors in and out of the classroom
  • Adapting behavior plans for supplementary school settings
  • Understanding auditory processing in the classroom
  • Supporting and supervising educators in introducing differentiated learning into the classrooms
  • Helping students develop important social skills
  • Making Jewish education inclusive

Conference Highlights

Keynote Address
"We Are All in This Together: Why Inclusion Matters"

Lisa Friedman
Co-director of Education
Temple Beth-El

Lisa Friedman graduated from Rutgers College with a bachelor's in psychology and a master's degree in counseling psychology. She consults with Jewish organizations to guide them in the development of inclusive practices for staff, clergy, and families through dialogue, interactive workshops and awareness training.

Friedman blogs about disabilities and inclusion. In addition, she has written for Behrman House on techniques in working with students who demonstrate a wide variety of learning needs. She is also a mentor in the Matan Institute for Education Directors.

Michael Delman

Meredith Englander Polsky
Director of Training and Advocacy


Meredith Englander Polsky holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Michigan, a master's degree in special education from Bank Street College and a master's degree in clinical social work from Columbia University. In 2001, she was one of eight national recipients of the first fellowships awarded by Joshua Venture: A Fellowship for Jewish Social Entrepreneurs.

Keynote Address
"Let's Talk About It: An Atypical View of Living in a Typical World"
Sam Gelfand

Sam Gelfand
Student and blogger

Sixteen-year-old Sam Gelfand was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum when he was 3. Since then, he has worked through many therapies and programs to make his diagnosis as transparent as possible and to better manage life.

He speaks to faculties, students, religious and community organizations and he commences the Autism Speaks Walk Now for Autism kick-off events and awards ceremonies in many Florida communities. He recently spoke at a conference in front of more than 1,000 people, where his speech was followed by an appearance from President Obama.

S'fatai Tiftakh Award
Sandy Miller Jacobs

Sandy Miller-Jacobs

Sandy Miller-Jacobs holds an undergraduate degree in education from Queens College, a master's degree in special education from Boston University and a doctorate in special education from Boston College. She worked for 28 years at Fitchburg State University, serving as professor and department chair in special education, interim vice president of academic affairs and dean of academic personnel.

Miller-Jacobs has also pioneered efforts for Jewish special education, working at the Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Boston and at Hebrew College. She served as president of the Massachusetts Council for Exceptional Children.

Click here to see 2014 schedule.

Click here to see highlights from the 2013 conference.


Eydie Balsam