Kulanu gala a family affair

Kulanu celebrates its ‘Bar Mitzvah’ at gala

Expands mandate to serve adults, wins state education department grant


Executive Director Beth Raskin celebrated Kulanu’s bar mitzvah on motzei Shabbat, announcing at the group’s annual gala that, in line with Kulanu’s amended charter, a new state education department contract would allow the Five Towns-based organization to expand its vocational and rehabilitative services to adults over age 21.

Additional approvals from the Office of People with Developmental disabilities is pending, she said.

Raskin praised the organization’s founders, including the evening’s three honorees, the community’s rabbonim, and those who have lent their support to Kulanu over the past 13 years.

“Mazel tov in joining our ‘bar mitzvah’ celebration,” she said.

After a moving video documented Kulanu’s efforts, Raskin reminded attendees that the group’s primary objective remains “incorporating those with disabling conditions into the fabric of our community — through play, through school, through opportunities in our neighborhood,” and that Kulanu serves both disabled individuals and their families.

“Whenever a parent is in need, we are there to hold their hand, offer and tissue and provide them hope.”

Of course, Kulanu needs continued community support.

“On each of your tables there are silhouettes representing 20 individual families who have met with us and they need your help,” Raskin said.

“If the stories sound familiar they should, because they are families from the Five Towns and Rockaway.

“No story is the same. They all have merit.

“It would be a zechus for all of us if I could spend tomorrow on the phone calling families and telling them that their child, or in many cases children, can come to respite next week, holiday inclusion, Sunday program, summer camp or school.”

The evening’s honorees were Alyssa and Leslie Sterba (presented with the Founding Parents Award by their children Bryan and Garrick Sterba)and Judy Joszef (presented with the Kulanu Volunteer Award by Daniel, Jeremy and Jordana Pollack).

The Jewish Star photos by Susan Grieco