Agudath Israel of America welcomes the award presented to Mrs. Leah Steinberg, director of Project LEARN, special education affairs, of Agudath Israel of America, recognizing her successful efforts on behalf of special needs children in the Orthodox community.
The award was presented on Tuesday by the Shema Kolainu-Hear Our Voices, a school for children with autism and other developmental disabilities, at its annual legislative breakfast at The Renaissance Ballroom in Brooklyn, which was arranged by The Friedlander Group.
The breakfast was attended by leading elected officials, activists and parents of special needs children focused on the challenges and triumphs our community has experienced in caring for children and adults with autism and other physical, developmental and learning challenges.
A highlight of this year’s event was the landmark New York City Board of Education policy shift announced in June by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. The agreement promises to alleviate many of the placement and reimbursement hardships faced by parents of special needs children in Yeshivos and other nonpublic institutions.
“There is no doubt that Mrs. Steinberg’s efforts were a significant force in reaching this historic accomplishment,” says Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, executive vice president of Agudath Israel of America. “She combines unique compassion and understanding with tireless devotion to the cause.”
Agudath Israel of America spent many years lobbying elected officials on these parents’ behalf and was instrumental in arranging the changes. Agudath Israel is also closely monitoring the Board’s implementation of these changes and is prepared to undertake any efforts necessary for further improvements to the process.
Others recognized at the breakfast for their efforts leading to the policy shift were Assembly Speaker Silver; Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein, sponsor of the Assembly’s Special Education bill; Assemblymen Steve Cymbrowitz, Phil Goldfeder, and Dov Hikind; and Jeff Leb, New York State director of political affairs of OU Advocacy. In addition, an appreciation award was presented to New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer. New York City Councilman Mark Weprin delivered greetings to the audience. New York State Senator Simcha Felder, who stirring address helped garner support amongst his colleagues for the Special Education Bill, delivered a special address at the breakfast.
“It was an honor to be recognized by such a great institution along with such a distinguished group of public servants,” says Mrs. Steinberg. “The honor in fighting on behalf of our special children is mine. We look forward to continue accomplishing on their behalf – together – with Hashem’s help.”