Inclusion main

Bagel Club - Empowering Adults with Special Needs

L-R: Gail (Bagel Club participant), Max and Yair (VTT students), Leamore (JCC Inclusion Services Coordinator). Photo courtesy of VTT.

Inclusion Services delivers on the Mitzvah of  Matir Asurim “Lifting up those in Adversity

Tzedakah is not just about giving. Tzedakah is about being. Tzedahah is not charity, it is giving from and of your whole self. It is both a way of life and the framework for how we want our lives to be.

I was strongly reminded of this when Inclusion Services was nominated for the Mitzvah of Valuing Philanthropy (MVP) program. This program is the culmination of a two-year Tikkun Olam program at Vancouver Talmud Torah for grade seven students  to “learn in a hands-on way what it means to become a caring and responsible adult. Students select a mitzvah (commandment), and then research, interview and select an agency that delivers on that mitzvah” (VTT 2018).

This year Yair Infeld and Max Switzer-Caplan nominated Inclusion Services as a deserving agency based on the mitzvah of Matir Asurim “Lifting up those in Adversity”.

I was invited to guide these two critical, inquisitive young men through our programs, services and philosophy. This was an incredible opportunity for me to reflect on the work we are doing in Inclusion Services and why we are doing it. I along with Gail Rudin a member of the Bagel Club community were also invited to visit the grade seven students in their classroom, to discuss the impact of Inclusion Services on individuals with diverse needs in our community.

We sat impressed while Max and Yair provided the class with a comprehensive overview of the challenges facing individuals with diverse need. They made a powerful  case to their classmates about why our programming, and what we do in the community, deserved their support and recognition.

Later, Gail Rudin, did an absolute standout job teaching the students about community inclusion through her own presentation. Gail, who has been coming to the JCC for over 10 years shared her personal experiences with the students. She explained that when she started coming to the JCC she thought she would probably find some programs of interest. However, what she received was “lifelong friendships, work opportunities, Jewish education and mostly important leadership opportunities.

As she explained to the students, “I don’t believe that I would have been able to visit Israel or be an active member of the JDAIM planning committee, or come to your classroom, or present a presentation at a national conference without the support of the Jewish Community Centre”.

In June, Inclusion Services is invited to attend the MVP Ceremony, when we will find out how the students decided to allocate the efforts of their impressive fundraising initiative and to be presented with a donation. I am so proud that Inclusion Services was selected as a  deserving agency. I am also proud of these two young men and grateful for what they taught me through the process.

Kol HaKavod to Yair, Max and all the grade seven VTT students of 2018.

Leamore Cohen, Inclusion Services Coordinator



Vision of Inclusion
The JCC Inclusion Services recognizes that diverse needs come in various forms: physical, mental and emotional health and wellbeing. We seek to include all members within our diverse community from preschool to seniors. We are committed to a community where all individuals are valued for who they are and the gifts they possess. We believe in giving everyone their opportunity to shine.

Inclusion Services reflects the values of Jewish Life:

  • Derech Eretz - respectful behavior
  • Chesed - compassion
  • K'vod Habriot - encouraging dignity for all
  • Tikkun Olam  - repairing the world, making it a more connected place

Mission: Removing Barriers and Creating Choice
The JCC Inclusion Services has a mission to educate, engage, train and support members with diverse needs and their families in our community. 

  • Educate through parent, youth and family education programs
  • Engage through adapting the physical, attitudinal, conversational and social environment so that all members may participate on an equal basis
  • Train through vocational, educational and social programs
  • Support through mentorship, social participation, recreational activities, advocacy, integration.    

Donations of money or kosher food items are needed and greatly appreciated. There is also a great need for volunteers. Please contact Inclusion Services Coordinator for more information


“Do not disdain any person.
Do not underrate the importance of anything – for there is no person who does not have his hours, and there is no thing without its place in the sun.”
— Ben Azzazi, Pirkei Avot


Leamore Cohen
Inclusion Services Coordinator