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Richard Bernstein inspires all at the Maccabi Victoria All Abilities Project Launch

Posted: 13-Mar-2014 by Maccabi VIC

Key note speaker Richard Bernstein

“Athletics is one of the most important fields that people with disabilities can be a part of, and I am honored to have the opportunity to speak to members of the Australian communities about the importance of integration and disability rights issues.” said Richard Bernstein, American Disabilities Rights Advocate and Keynote Speaker. “I cannot describe how excited I am to be the keynote speaker at the Maccabi Victoria All Abilities Project Launch”


Yesterday evening, Wednesday 12th March marked the official launching of the ‘Maccabi Victoria All Abilities project launch’ at the beautiful Mossgreen gallery in Armadale.

The evening was a celebration, to launch the All Abilities Needs Analysis, which was completed by consultant Nikki Burger in 2013, and was the result of a partnership between Maccabi Victoria, Jewish Care and significant support from Access Inc., another leading disability organisation in the Jewish Community. The project leads into the appointment of Lauren Mandel as the inaugural Maccabi Victoria All Abilities Inclusion coordinator

Following gourmet canapés and drinks, Nathan Strempel opened the official presentations, followed by The Hon. Mary Wooldridge MP, Minister for Mental Health, Minister for Community Services and Minister for Disability Services and Reform launching the 2013 Maccabi Victoria and Jewish Care (VIC) All Abilities research report and the 2014 Maccabi Victoria All Abilities Inclusion Project.

The night flowed seamlessly, with presentations from Bill Appleby (CEO of Jewish Care), Joe Dorfman (President of Maccabi Victoria) and Zvi Schweitzer (All Abilities tennis player and coach). Handmade plaques featuring a photo-collage of All Abilities sport and recreation programs were presented to major supporters including Alan Synman and Family and the Theodor Herzl Social Club as well as to the key drivers of the All Abilities Inclusion Project Sharon Hamilton, Russell Jaffe and Phil Sheezel.

Two inspiring videos were also displayed during the evening. 'Lets Play' All Abilities Basketball team.  This video captures the essence of the Maccabi Victoria All Abilities Dolphins basketball team, which has allowed people with disability to participate in sport and recreation for 8 years, with a smile on their face.  ‘Creating equal access and opportunity’ is a snapshot of the variety of programs available for Maccabi Victoria All Abilities members. From Basketball to Ten Pin Bowling, Soccer to Animal integration program, we are delighted with this this growing club and proud of all our members. 

It was also proudly announced that all Maccabi Victoria All Abilities news and events, photos, videos, membership forms, Community Calendar 2014 plus much more can now be found on the Maccabi Victoria website and the new Maccabi app

Finally it was the moment everyone had been waiting for, the keynote speaker, Richard Bernstein. Every pair of eyes was fixated towards the stage. The audience was absolutely captivated by this truly incredible and inspirational man. Richard Bernstein is a tireless disability advocate who juggles work as a pro bono attorney, University of Michigan adjunct professor and is an avid marathon athlete. Blind since birth, his positive and spiritual take on life is simply inspirational.

Russell Jaffe, the President of the Maccabi Victoria Sports Foundation, one of the key drivers of the All Abilities Inclusion project and the overall coordinator for Richards’s tour to both Melbourne and Sydney, presented Richard with a traditional Aboriginal hand-painted Kippah, and plaque announcing the establishment of the Foundation fund in Richard’s name.

Russell reported “We have been extraordinarily privileged to have Richard here as our guest. His address at our Launch moved many people in the audience to tears. He gave a clear message of the power of sport to uplift the human soul, and how the involvement of people with a disability humanizes so much ‘standard’ activity. His challenge for us is to face and break through our barriers and reach for otherwise unattainable goals, uplifted the attendees and provided everyone with an inspirational message. We are sure he will continue to enthrall audiences as he continues his Australian visit.”

If you would like to help support the Maccabi Victoria All Abilities project continue to grow and inspire, please:

-Contact Lauren Mandel (All Abilities Inclusion Coordinator)

P: 03 9563 5885 | M: 0412 605 480 | E: |

Richard Bernstein and Zvi Schweitzer
Mike Debinski , David Southwick MP, The Hon. Mary Wooldridge MP, Nathan Strempel , Ian Davis, Richard Bernstein, Russell Jaffe
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