Living With Disabilities and Special Needs

One of the Jewish Federation’s top priorities is to create a more inclusive community that addresses the needs of individuals with special needs, from birth to adulthood.


There are an increasing number of children diagnosed with special needs, and a corresponding need for support for them and their families. The Federation oversees and partners with programs that provide social service referrals, programming, and resources for families with children with a disability.

  • HaMercaz – A centralized resource that provides information, referrals, and case management for Jewish families and children with special needs and developmental disabilities from birth through age 22.
  • Special Needs Jewish Engagement Task Force – Comprised of members from Caring for Jews in Need, Ensuring the Jewish Future, and community members, the Task Force focuses on creating Jewish education and engagement opportunities for children with special needs and their families by identifying community needs, and overseeing a grants process .
  • Friendship Circle of Los Angeles – Provides mentoring for Jewish children with special needs to experience positive social interactions, and address the problem of social isolation.


As children with special needs move into adulthood, we recognize the growing need for services and programs specifically housing, meaningful daytime activities, social and recreational programs, and legal and financial safety nets.  With our partners, we are working to assist adults with special needs and their caregivers.

  • Los Angeles Jewish Abilities Center (LAJAC)Helps adults with special needs in Los Angeles access the resources and tools they need to live meaningful, purposeful, and Jewish lives. Through a state-of-the-art website, case management and better coordination between service providers, LAJAC provides opportunities that promote self-advocacy, independence, and accessibility to practical resources. 
  • Chaverim – Offers social and social skills activities for adults with developmental disabilities to help keep them connected and engaged with each other and the Jewish community.
  • ETTA – Offers residential services and supervised Jewish homes, including group homes and independent housing opportunities, which allow adults with special needs to live as independently as possible.
  • Shalom Institute’s Shemesh Organic Farm  and ETTA’s Job and Life Skills Services [] Offers programs, services, and trainings for adults with disabilities wishing to increase their independence by gaining job and life skills and employment.

Community Impact

The Federation recognizes the value of promoting inclusion and respect for people with disabilities. With our partners, we provide opportunities for teaching and learning, and celebrating inclusion.

  • Community Inclusion Specialist – To help advance inclusion in our Jewish community, the inclusion specialist provides trainings and technical assistance to local camps, schools, and other community organizations.  
  • Jewish Disability Awareness & Inclusion Month (JDAIM) – The Federation celebrates JDAIM, a national initiative, each February to raise awareness and foster inclusion for people with disabilities and their families.