Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion Month (JDAIM) is a unified effort among Jewish organizations worldwide to raise awareness and foster acceptance and inclusion of people with disabilities and mental health conditions and those who love them.

Nick Katalifos, “Two Hats, One Voice: An Educator and a Parent Talks about Inclusion”

Since the beginning of his career, Nick Katalifos has focused his life’s mission upon helping others and devoted his career to education.

More specifically, Nick began a teaching career in the early 1990’s that would eventually lead to some of his greatest personal and career achievements.

He started his full-time teaching career at LaurenHill Academy and was then appointed Vice Principal at Westmount High School before moving on to the post of Vice Principal at Gardenview Elementary School. Nick was then promoted to the position of principal at four successive schools, General Vanier Elementary School, Pierre de Coubertin Elementary School, Roslyn Elementary School and more recently, he served as Principal of Wager Adult Education Centre. This remarkable career path in three sectors — primary, secondary and adult education, has led Nick to his appointment on March 25*h 2021 as Director General of the English Montreal School Board (EMSB).

Mr. Katalifos has been integrally involved with community groups and associations, particularly as they relate to special needs. In addition to his administrative role at Wagar Adult Education Centre which focuses primarily upon students with special needs, he has proudly served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Giant Steps School and Resource Center for a decade.
The school was established 40 years ago and is mandated specifically to offer services to autistic students aged 4-21. Nick and his wife Mary Gouskos, a consultant with the EMSB, have two children — Anna, a 23 year old student at McGill, and 19 year old Manoli who has attended
Giant Steps since the age of four. ”

Since autism is often diagnosed at a young age, one of Mr. Katalifos goals is have autism recognised as a lifelong condition and has recently took on a consultation process to determine the various needs of the Montreal area autism community. He has determined that what is needed is a Giant Steps Autism centre that can support people of all ages that are under the spectrum. Mr. Katalifos, along with the Giant Steps Foundation, has raised over $1 000 000 in an annual campaign for Giant Steps School.

Mr. Katalifos also generously gives his time to numerous committees, such as the Child Bright Network, the Transforming Autism Care Consortium, the Azrieli Center for Autism, the Regional Access Committee for Health and Social Services Laval, and the Community Service Initiative Round Table at John Molson School of Business.

Mr. Katalifos has received numerous awards for his service and dedication to the community. In 2012, he received the AHEPAN of the Year Award for community service and received Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for community service. In 2013, he received the Award of Honor from the Hellenic Congress of Quebec for community service and in 2015, he was awarded the CJAD Hero of the Month for community service. In 2017, he was recipient of the Senate of Canada Sesquicentennial Medal in Commemoration of the 150t* Anniversary of the Senate for his Service to the Nation.

8th Annual JDAIM Program
Shabbaton with Rabbi Rebecca L. Dubowe

A native of Los Angeles, Rabbi Rebecca L. Dubowe was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and has served several synagogues in different cities, including Thousand Oaks, CA, Hollywood, CA, and New Brunswick, NJ. Currently, she is the rabbi at Moses Montefiore Congregation in Bloomington, IL. Since her arrival during the summer of 2015, Rabbi Dubowe has played an active role as the spokesperson of the small but vibrant Jewish community in Bloomington. She serves as the co-chair of the Faith and Outreach committee associated with the Not In Our Town organization, a grassroots movement focused on stopping hate, addressing bullying, and building safe, inclusive communities for all. In addition, Rabbi Dubowe co-founded the McLean County Interfaith Alliance, which promotes interfaith dialogue and fellowship within the greater Bloomington Normal faith communities.
In 2016, Rabbi Dubowe was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Delaware Valley University, PA, and in 2018, she received an honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. An avid learner of theology, Rabbi Dubowe’s most recent essay was included in Because My Soul Longs for You: Integrating Theology into our Lives, recently published by CCAR Press.
In addition to serving her congregation fulltime, Rabbi Dubowe also offers her time to the greater Jewish Deaf Community, including teaching the first-ever Introduction to Judaism in ASL in partnership with the Union of Reform Judaism, which she will teach again in January 2022. This community has a special place in Rabbi Dubowe’s life as she is the first female Deaf rabbi ordained in the world. Rabbi Dubowe has spoken at numerous synagogues throughout the country, written various articles, and led webinars on the importance of inclusion within the Jewish community.