Thursday, December 22, 2016
The Board of Directors and entire staff of the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute mourns the passing of our friend, supporter and long-time board member, Mandell "Bill" Berman, at age 99.
Bill was one of the distinguished leaders of the American Jewish community. He was an Honorary Board Member of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. He was also a past President of the Council of Jewish Federations, and a past President and Chair of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit.
One of Bill’s unique contributions has been the support of significant research to promote Jewish education and communal life in the United States. He was a co-founder of the Jewish Education Service of North America. As well, he chaired the 1990 and 2002 landmark Jewish Population Studies in North America and founded the Berman Jewish DataBank, now at the Jewish Federations of North America, and the Berman Jewish Policy Archive, now at Stanford University, to further the study of the Jewish community in North America.
Bill was a staunch supporter of MJB and believed in the power of research to help make the world a better place, in particular for children with disabilities. In 1999, he established the Mandell Berman Fund for Research on Children with Disabilities to support vital research on children with disabilities. In the years since, the Berman Fund has enabled MJB to create a critical mass of studies that have made a tangible difference in the opportunities and education, health, and social well-being of Israeli children with disabilities and their families.
The Fund has sponsored landmark needs assessments and national surveys of children with disabilities in general, and high-risk populations such as Bedouin children with disabilities and young adults with disabilities. Such studies have helped to raise awareness of the needs of children with disabilities, resulting in this issue having a higher priority for government and civil society. They have brought new attention to population groups such as Arab-Israelis and immigrants, as well as to disabilities that have been particularly neglected or inadequately addressed, such as ADHD.
With the support of the Berman Fund, MJB has contributed significantly to promoting the development and implementation of legislation and services that help children with disabilities. These include the Special Education Inclusion Law, the development of a national network of preschools, and new models for addressing the transition to adulthood.
Just this month, the Institute newsletter
honored the Berman Fund's crucial contribution to research on children with disabilities and to the development of programs and policies to address their needs.
"Bill was not only a staunch supporter of the work of MJB, but a true friend," said MJB Director Professor Jack Habib. "His belief in the power of research truly made a difference for children with disabilities and their families in Israel. His Fund will enable MJB to continue this work in perpetuity."
Thanks to the Mandell Berman Fund, these activities were carried out in 2016: