Town Hall Meeting: Inclusion in Online Jewish Education

The Jewish Education Project
May 19, 2020

In this town hall meeting, our panel of experts respond to questions from educators in the field, expanding our theoretical understanding while sharing practical approaches to the following: 

  • Holistic model of inclusion: how can we effectively expand our definition and practice of inclusion?
  • Social Relationships: how to support our socially vulnerable learners.
  • Executive Functioning: what tools and strategies can educators use in the virtual space to support learners with their attention and organization.
  • Parent Partnership: redefining the balance of partnership.

This link will take you to a zoom recording of the webinar.



Dr. Elana G. Spira: Dr. Spira is a licensed clinical psychologist and Clinical Assistant Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Child Study Center of Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at New York University (NYU) Langone Health. She is coauthor of Organizational Skills Training for Children with ADHD: An Empirically Supported Treatment (for mental health professionals) and The Organized Child: An Effective Program to Maximize Your Kid's Potential—in School and in Life (for parents), and participated in developing and testing the Organizational Skills Training program. In addition, she is Director of Research and Evaluation at Westchester Jewish Community Services, a leading social service agency in Westchester County, New York.



Elana Naftalin-Kelman: Elana has been working at the intersection of special education and Jewish education for over 15 years. She directs the Tikvah program for kids with disabilities at Camp Ramah in California, which includes a camper program, a vocational program for young adults and a camp for families that have children with special needs. Elana is an adjunct faculty member in the Special Education department at San Francisco State and a fieldwork supervisor for new Special Education teachers at Loyola Marymount University.  Elana has consulted with multiple Jewish institutions to aid them in thinking about how to be more inclusive of Jews of all abilities. She has taught professional development courses in differentiated instruction, behavior management and teaching Hebrew. She is Co-Founder of Edah, a Jewish after school program located in Berkeley, California, and lives there with her husband and three boys, Yair, Nevo and Etai.


Meredith Polsky: Meredith Polsky founded Matan in 2000 and serves as Matan's National Director of Institutes and Training, as well as the part-time Developmental Support Coordinator at Temple Beth Ami Nursery School in Rockville, MD. Meredith is a nationally sought-after speaker on Jewish Special Education. She holds a Master’s degree in Special Education from Bank Street College, a Master’s degree in  Clinical Social Work from Columbia University and a graduate certificate in Early Intervention from Georgetown University. Meredith is a 2017 Covenant Award recipient, and co-author of the award-winning I Have a Question children’s book series. More information, including Meredith's free social stories helping children navigate the Coronavirus Pandemic, can be found at



Ilana Kustanowitz: Ilana Kustanowitz, PhD, received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania with a double major in Psychology and Jewish Studies. After conducting research at the NYU Child Study Center, she returned to academia to complete her doctorate in School Psychology at Fordham University. Dr. Kustanowitz has worked at Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County since 2007, initially in the middle school, and now extending throughout the entire school from the “3’s (Gan Keshet)” through eighth grade. Her research interests include positive well-being, happiness, and the impact of community service participation on an individual’s overall life satisfaction. Dr. Kustanowitz is married to Simmy, a television executive producer, whom she met during their many years as staff members at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires. Together, they are raising three happy girls who are current Schechter students.



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