Prize Recipients 2007
Children and Youth at Risk
Ruti Zeira holds a Master of Social Work degree and has served as the director of the Sahlav program (Emergency Help for Youth in Distress) since December 1999. The program is run jointly by the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Municipality of Haifa, the Elem association, the Keshet association, and Ashalim. Sahlav is an innovative and unique program that brings together a wide range of initiatives for distressed youth, including: a street presence for children and youth in distress, a home for homeless youth, a multidisciplinary day support center, and an employment hothouse. Ruti has developed broad-based and complex cooperation between the different partners on the organizational and professional levels, identifying synergy between the different activities and emphasizing the unique advantages of each partner body. She works hard to develop the common space in the project, which is managed by a steering committee including all the partners. Ruti continues to develop an innovative and holistic approach to youth at the extreme end of the risk spectrum, applying profound and professional learning and thought processes. She believes in developing a multidisciplinary team and sets high demands for skills and commitment. Her wide-ranging activities have placed the issue of alienated youth who live on the streets on the public agenda in Haifa. She has managed to position and channel existing resources and to develop new tools, applying a professional, serious, innovative, and creative approach. The municipal infrastructure model developed by Sahlav, and the wide influence the program enjoys, are a model for other social service departments around Israel.
In recognition of these activities and achievements, the Committee has decided to award Ruti Zeira the Zusman Prize for Children and Youth at Risk.
Members of the Committee:
Dr. Ilana Zeiler – Chair
Dr. Miriam Golan
Development of Services for the Disables
Aviezer Grauer, an attorney by profession, has been active since his childhood on behalf of and together with people with disabilities, seeking to promote their social integration and improve their quality of life. He was one of the founders of the House on Wheels association and served as the chairperson of the association for over 25 years, working in a voluntary capacity to promote the association’s approach. This approach sees the association as one where disabled and non-disabled people work together as volunteers, enjoying equal rights as members of a common club. Aviezer initiated, established, and managed the employment program at the House on Wheels. Through this program, the association helps to place its members in employment and provides comprehensive and long-term rehabilitation and education activities from an early age. When he joined the association in 1982 there were some 15 volunteers. Today the association has over 600 members in four centers. Aviezer works with the young and adult members and volunteers, infecting them with his enthusiasm and commitment.
Aviezer has a broad-based, systemic perspective and a keen sense of the need to combine grassroots activities with policy change. As well as training people with disabilities to join the job market, he was involved in formulating the recommendations of the public committee headed by Judge Laron. Aviezer petitioned the Supreme Court in order to ensure that the State would encourage the integration of people with disabilities in employment through appropriate legislation. The Supreme Court ruling led to the adoption of the recommendations of the Laron Committee by the State, so that people with disabilities will not lose their general disability allowance if they become salaried employees. The relevant bill has passed its first reading, and Aviezer is continuing his advocacy efforts in order to ensure that the legislative process is completed. This achievement will make an important contribution to the lives of people with disabilities in Israel and constitutes a further step in Aviezer’s tireless efforts in this field. Aviezer shows a thorough, consistent, and modest approach to his work and is a strong believer in teamwork.
In recognition of these activities and achievements, the Committee has decided to award Aviezer Grauer the Zusman Prize for the Development of Services for the Disabled.
Members of the Committee:
Dr. Elisheva Sadan – Chair
Development of Human resources and Organizational Infrastructure in the field of Social Services
Guy Finkelshtein holds a Master of Social Work degree and is a graduate of the Mashmaut course. Since 1998, he has served as the executive director of the Association for the Advancement of Learning Disabled Students in Higher Education in Israel. Although he himself suffers from a learning disability, Guy has secured impressive professional and academic achievements. Under his leadership, the field of support for people with learning disabilities has become a familiar and accepted area that enjoys legitimacy in all sections of society, from policy makers through institutions of higher education and on to professionals and people with learning disabilities themselves. His activities have led to the establishment of some 40 new support centers in institutions of higher education, as well as the strengthening of the professional foundations in this field and the advancement of policy and legislation. Guy promoted the formation of a broad-based mentoring project within the Perach program. Every year, students receive scholarships in return for working as mentors with their peers who face learning disabilities. He has also invested in the development and promotion of special projects, such as a unique project to support members of the Ethiopian-Israeli community who have learning disabilities, a special preparatory program for people with learning disabilities in order to enhance their integration in academic studies, and the establishment of a support center for soldiers with learning disabilities who participate in courses at the Israeli navy’s training base. Guy has raised awareness of learning disabilities through informational efforts, advocacy, and representation. He initiates and organizes conferences and seminars and publishes articles that serve as professional references in the field.
In recognition of these activities and achievements, the Committee has decided to award Guy Finkelshtein the Zusman Prize for the Development of Human Resources and Organizational Infrastructure in the Field of Social Services
Members of the Committee:
Dr. Neri Horwitz – Chair
Gabi Ben Nun