Meet Matan’s Spring Event Honorees

May 23, 2024

Each year, Matan honors several individuals whose commitment to disability inclusion reflects Matan’s important mission of creating inclusive Jewish communities. This year, Matan is thrilled to celebrate Rabbi Shai Held, Aaron Kaufman, and ABC’s The Good Doctor;at their Spring Event to be held on May 29 in Closter, NJ. Additionally, Matan will salute Eileen and Jerry Lieberman; with appreciation for their long-standing partnership and the creation of The Lieberman Fellowship for Professionals in Jewish Organizations Serving Young Adults.

  • Shai Held

Rabbi Shai Held

Leadership Award

Rabbi Shai Held, one of the most influential Jewish thinkers and leaders in America, is President and Dean of the Hadar Institute in New York City. Rabbi Held received the prestigious Covenant Award for Excellence in Jewish Education, and has been named multiple times to Newsweek’s list of the most influential rabbis in America and to the Forward’s list of the most prominent Jews in the world. He is the author of Abraham Joshua Heschel: The Call of Transcendence (2013) and The Heart of Torah: Essays on the Weekly Torah Portion (2017). His new book, Judaism is About Love, has just been published by Farrar, Straus, & Giroux. Rabbi Held has served on the board of The Open Medicine Foundation which focuses its research on both Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Long Covid.

  • Aaron Kaufman

Aaron Kaufman

Impact Award

Aaron Kaufman is the Senior Manager of Legislative Affairs focusing on disability and poverty issues for The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA). Simultaneously, Aaron is a member of the Maryland House of Delegates where he serves on the Judiciary Committee.

Having Cerebral Palsy, Aaron feels he brings a unique perspective to his work in the House of Delegates and JFNA’s efforts on behalf of people with disabilities. Previously, Aaron worked at: Arc Maryland, lobbying for Marylanders with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families; the offices of then Congressman (now Senator) Chris Van Hollen and former Senator Evan Bayh; Project SEARCH in Montgomery County, a job-training program for young adults with significant disabilities; and the Easter Seals Office of Public Affairs. Aaron volunteers on the executive committee of the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes (now named Makom) and the board of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. He served on the boards of the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council, the National Association of Developmental Disabilities Council, Disability Rights Maryland, and the Union for Reform Judaism.


The Good Doctor 

accepted by David Shore, Executive Producer and Co-Showrunner

Trailblazer Award

For seven seasons, ABC’s The Good Doctor has been a master class in demonstrating the importance of focusing on a person’s ability rather than disability, and showcasing what is gained when everyone is included, celebrated and utilized for the unique gifts they possess. The Good Doctor centers around a surgeon with autism and savant syndrome who uses his extraordinary gifts to save lives and challenge skepticism. Matan is honored to present the Trailblazer Award to The Good Doctor during its farewell season with gratitude for the show’s impact on raising awareness about disability inclusion and belonging. David Shore, Executive Producer and Co-Showrunner will be accepting the award on behalf of himself; Liz Friedman, Executive Producer and Co-Showrunner; and Erin Gunn, Executive Producer.

For ticket and Tribute Journal information for Matan’s Spring Event, visit

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