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The Rudermans followed the pattern of many philanthropic families—starting with generous check-writing at the kitchen table and quickly moving into strategic investment. Founder and successful businessman, Morton E. Ruderman, had long been giving back to the Jewish community in Boston. In the early 2000s, Mort decided to make a major gift to local Jewish day schools. When they learned about the absence of children with disabilities in their classrooms, the family felt this systematic exclusion was an affront to their Jewish values. They agreed to focus on correcting this injustice and from the beginning understood their commitment to the inclusion of children and adults with disabilities as a social justice imperative.
Mort tapped his oldest son, Attorney Jay Ruderman, to lead the Foundation. Jay’s experience with civil rights issues enabled him immediately to understand the disability community as a socially, economically, and politically excluded and segregated class. This is the assumption from which he leads the Foundation and the fundamental perspective we hold today: disability rights are civil rights.