Best practices from experts working with students with special needs

Meeting the needs of diverse learners is increasingly an issue of equity and inclusion. However, many educators are unprepared to meet the differentiated learning needs of their students. We invite you to join us for this comprehensive series that illustrates ways to support a variety of student populations in educational settings. There will be an opportunity to submit questions for the presenters ahead of each session so that the content will address specific and relevant concerns of participants.

In this series we will:

  • Learn from experts in the field of special needs inclusion as they share their best practices of working with a specific student population.
  • Engage with other Jewish educators that are working with similar populations and are committed to providing equitable learning experiences for all students.
  • Conceptualize strategies and tools that address the unique needs of students, and their parents, so that they can thrive in your educational setting.
  • Reflect on the opportunities that students with special needs bring to strengthen our approach to teaching the whole child.

While each session addresses a specific population of students, we welcome educators from all settings to join us — family engagement, Early Childhood Education, B’nai Mitzvah, JCCs, camps, day schools, and other teaching and learning environments.

Dates and Location

The series will be held on Zoom. The five sessions will be on Tuesday mornings 10:30am-12:00pm Pacific

You are welcome to register for one or more of the five sessions. To register for a session after the deadline, please contact Liora Brosbe directly to see if there is space.

February 16

Tips of the Trade: Talking with parents about special needs with Dr. David Neufeld and Ryan Berman, MSW

Cost: $18
Registration closes February 9

This session is presented in collaboration with Jewish Disability Advocacy Month (JDAM) “From Empowerment to Advocacy”

February 23

Tips of the Trade: Meeting the needs of campers with special needs. Supporting children in overnight camp, afterschool programs, and informal education settings with Elana Naftalin-Kelman, MsED and MSW, and Lisa Friedman

Cost: $18
Registration closes February 16

This session is presented in collaboration with Jewish Disability Advocacy Month (JDAM) “From Empowerment to Advocacy”

March 16

Tips of the Trade: Unique concerns for students with special needs in the ECE setting with Dr. David Neufeld and Michelle Tirella Ventura, M.Ed, AMFT #109932

Cost: $18
Registration closes March 9

March 23

Tips of the Trade: Meeting the special needs of high school students with Yael Krieger, MS and Lisa Friedman

Cost: $18
Registration closes March 16

April 13

Tips of the Trade: Meeting the special needs of K-8 students: How to cultivate multi-sensory skills in the time of virtual learning with Deanne Kelly, BS, OTR/L

Cost: $18
Registration closes April 6

All trainings at Jewish LearningWorks are subsidized by our generous donors and are offered free of charge to people furloughed or laid off from Jewish organizations. If cost is an obstacle to your participation, please email

Registration Form


Ryan is the Director of Disability Services across all Jewish Family & Children’s Services regional sites. He has worked with individuals with various disabilities for 15 years, providing a variety of services, skills, and resources to children, youth, adults and seniors. Ryan accepted a role as a panelist twice at the United Nations for Autism Awareness Day in 2013 and 2019 on panels for communication as a human right and on transitioning to adulthood. He specializes in turning preferred interests into job prospects, finding mentors in the community to develop employment opportunities for neurodiverse individuals, creative methodologies for behavior intervention, and the importance of assistive technology for non-speaking individuals with disabilities. He has also been a co-leader in multiple training experiences on best practices for working with neurodiverse populations, both internationally and nationally. Ryan serves on the Board of the Autism Society of Los Angeles and holds a master’s degree in Social Work with a focus on Children, Youth, Women and Families.

Lisa is a widely recognized expert in Jewish Disability Inclusion and has been a Consultant for congregations, schools, camps, and other organizations for over fifteen years. She guides communities in the development of inclusive practices for school faculty, clergy, leadership, and families through dialogue, interactive workshops, and awareness training. Before coming to work full-time as an Education Director at a Reform congregation in Central New Jersey, Lisa taught special education in the New Jersey public schools. Lisa has her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, a Master’s in Counseling Psychology, and teaching certifications in both Elementary and Special Education. Lisa is also currently the Project Manager of UJA-Federation of New York’s Synagogue Inclusion Project. She is a sought after speaker on a wide variety of topics and blogs about disabilities and inclusion at Removing the Stumbling Block.

Deanne Kelly is the Director of Occupational Therapy at the Center for Children and Youth, a division of Jewish Family and Children’s Services. A board-certified registered and licensed occupational therapist, Deanne graduated from San Jose State University with a B.S. in occupational therapy. Deanne has over 35 years of experience as an occupational therapist, providing therapeutic intervention for children from birth to young adulthood. She specializes in developmental disabilities, attention deficit disorders, learning disabilities and sensory processing challenges. Past experience includes providing therapeutic intervention in clinic, hospital, school and home environments.

Jennifer Phillips is a board-certified registered occupational therapist who has a passion for helping kids. She received her graduate degree from Texas Woman’s University and her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Jenn draws from over ten years of experience of providing children with occupational therapy in the Bay Area in a wide variety of settings, including preschools, outpatient clinics, public schools, and a non-public school for children on the Autism Spectrum. She specializes in working with sensory processing challenges, developmental delays, learning differences, and neurodevelopmental differences. She has taken continuing education in treatment of sensory processing disorder, Handwriting Without Tears, Neurodevelopmental Treatment for children aged 0 – 5, SCERTS, and Dyspraxia. She frequently utilizes techniques from Zones of Regulation, Social Thinking/Superflex, Ball-A-Vis-X, and Astronaut Training.

Jenn believes that a strong child-therapist connection is crucial in achieving that “magic” that can take place in occupational therapy. She is motivated to help children of all ages experience playfulness and joy while developing new skills, cultivating self-confidence, and connecting to others.

Yael Krieger began her professional teaching career in 2005, as a New York City Teaching Fellow. For two years she taught special education in the Bronx while obtaining her MS in Urban Education with Certification for Students with Disabilities. After completing her masters degree, she moved to Israel to participate in the Pardes Educators Program, deepening her knowledge of Jewish learning with a focus on how to teach Jewish texts. Before returning to America, she worked for a year as a Learning Specialist in the Anglican International School in Jerusalem.

From early on, Yael Krieger was committed to working in Jewish day schools in order to bring greater awareness, experience, and support for students with diverse learning profiles. In 2011, Yael began working at the Jewish Community High School of the Bay, and continues to work there as the Director of Teaching and Learning.

Elana has been working at the intersection of special education and Jewish education for over 20 years. She was inspired on this path by her time as a camper at Camp Ramah in Ojai, where she has been directing their Tikvah program for campers and young adults with disabilities for 15 years. These programs include a camper program, a vocational program for young adults, a camp for families that have children with disabilities and a year round program for job support and placement in the Los Angeles area. Elana is also an adjunct professor of Special Education at San Francisco State University and supervises new Special Education teachers in the public school setting. She has consulted with multiple Jewish institutions to aid them in thinking about how to be more inclusive of Jews of all abilities. She has taught professional development courses in differentiated instruction, behavior management and teaching Hebrew. She lives in Berkeley, California with her husband and three sons.

Dr. David Neufeld grew up in the Los Angeles area, came to the Bay Area to attend college at UC Berkeley, and never left. After a five-year stint as a professional actor, he enrolled in the Joint Doctoral Program in Special Education with UC Berkeley and SF State, earning his PhD in 2012. He has worked in the field of Special Education and learning support since the early 2000s, and prior to joining Jewish Community High School of the Bay in 2020 he served for 10 years as the Director of Inclusion at Jewish LearningWorks in San Francisco, supporting Jewish educators, schools, and families across the Bay Area around special needs inclusion. In addition to his role at JCHS, he has a private practice as an inclusion coach and consultant for families, schools, and organizations (

Michelle has been active in the field of education/inclusion services for the past 15 years. Michelle has served children and families as a preschool director, director of inclusion services, and working with families whose child(ren) are on the Autism spectrum and who have a range of developmental disabilities with Bay Area organizations including the Jewish Federation of the East Bay, Lawrence Hall of Science Summer Programming, and at Behavior Intervention Association.

After receiving her M.A. in Counseling Psychology to pursue her career as a Marriage and Family therapist, Michelle began her work at the Child Therapy Institute, and part time work at the Fiddleheads Program at Seeds of Awareness. Michelle provides individual and group therapy, working with children, adolescents, adults and families. Michelle believes in connection and works collaboratively with a strength based approach.

“Tips of the Trade” is a part of Jewish LearningWorks Special Needs Inclusion work. In addition to relevant resources for educators working with diverse learners, our personal referral process helps educators schedule clinical student observations; make needed accommodations for students with special needs; and address general concerns through customized training and workshops. We gladly provide services for Bay Area Jewish institutions, including preschools, synagogue programs, day schools, camps, and other Jewish educational settings.

For more information or to schedule a consultation please contact Liora Brosbe:

These services are available at highly subsidized rates thanks to the generous support of the Jewish Community Federation and Foundation’s donor advised funds and the Fineman, King, Kohn, Kravitz-Fisher and Sugarman families.