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Jewish People Invited to Give Opinions on Disability Issues

New Jewish Disability Inclusion Toolkit Offers Free Resources
Projects Made Possible by Itzhak Perlman, Genesis Foundation, JFN, ORLO and Beverly Foundations

Washington, D.C., June 25, 2018 – RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization that fights stigma and advances opportunities for people with disabilities, is requesting Jews to give their opinions on a wide range of issues impacting people with disabilities.

While the majority of people either have a disability or a loved one with a disability, people do not need to be personally connected to disability in order to have a valued opinion. The survey takes approximately 10 minutes to complete and you can win $250 for participating in it.

To give your opinions and do the survey, visit:

While individual answers will be kept confidential, the overall results of this survey will be released nationally as a sounding board for dozens of Jewish and nonprofit organizations who are working on disability issues.

Meanwhile, RespectAbility also announces the launch of The Jewish Disability Inclusion Toolkit. The toolkit, which is available online for free on our website at, offers Jewish organizations and individuals the facts and resources they need to get disability inclusion right.

The toolkit offers a wide array of key information all in one easy to read place. A Disability FAQ covers topics from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the definition of a disability to concrete steps to ensure inclusivity and sample inclusion language. The Jewish Disability Inclusion Toolkit also includes comprehensive resources including information on specific disabilities, free webinars and sample sermons for Rabbis.

“The goal of the toolkit is to ensure more positive, welcoming and respectful inclusion of people with disabilities in Jewish life and institutions,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, RespectAbility’s president.

RespectAbility was founded in 2013 by three Jewish leaders: Donn Weinberg of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, who also currently serves as the chairman of the Philanthropy Roundtable; Shelley Cohen, who is founder and director of The Jewish Inclusion Project; and Mizrahi.

“When it comes to diversity and inclusion, people generally have their hearts in the right place. Thus, it is much more about skill than will,” added Debbie Fink, RespectAbility’s Director of Community Outreach and Impact. Fink also oversees RespectAbility’s Jewish Inclusion Volunteer Working Group. “This toolkit will help anyone who wants to advance disability inclusion, equity and equality in the work. After all, when it comes to disability inclusion, people often simply don’t know what they don’t know. As a result, they are afraid they will make a mistake. By creating this guide, we hope to take away the fear factor from disability inclusion. We want to make it easy.”

headshot of Itzhak Perlman holding his violin in front of him

Itzhak Perlman

“RespectAbility is here to support your success,” Shelley Cohen added. “Jewish tradition teaches us that we are all made in G-d’s image. Moreover, some of the most talented people on earth have or had disabilities.”

The creation of this toolkit was made possible by the financial support of The Genesis Prize Foundation, which worked with Jewish Funders Network to conduct the Breaking Barriers Initiative, created to honor Itzhak Perlman, 2016 Genesis Prize Laureate and world-renowned violinist and activist for people with disabilities.

Ahuva and Aaron Orlofsky of the ORLO Fund and the Beverly Foundation matched that support.

Aaron and Ahuva Orlofsky posed with their three children - teenage girl, boy and girl, all smiling for the camera

Orlofsky family

“We are delighted to support innovation and outreach to advance inclusion of people with disabilities,” said Amy Rosenblatt Lui, executive director of Beverly Foundation. “I want to give thanks to Itzhak Perlman for his vision who got the ball rolling on this.”

Philanthropists Ahuva and Aaron Orlofsky are also tremendous forces of good for Sulam, a program that advances inclusion of students with disabilities in Jewish Day School. Sulam honored RespectAbility at its annual gala in early June.

“We are honored to be a part of this effort to ensure that all Jewish people have the opportunity to be fully included in Jewish life,” Aaron Orlofsky, who also is also a member of RespectAbility’s Board of Directors. “RespectAbility is on the front lines in the battle to ensure that Jewish institutions are fully welcoming of, and accessible to, Jews with disabilities and their loved ones.”

Meet the Author

Lauren Appelbaum

Lauren Appelbaum is the VP, Communications and Entertainment & News Media, of RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so all people with disabilities can fully participate in every aspect of community. As an individual with an acquired nonvisible disability – Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy – she works at the intersection of disability, employment, Hollywood and politics. She regularly conducts trainings on the why and how to be more inclusive and accessible for entertainment executives throughout the industry. Appelbaum partners with studios, production companies and writers’ rooms to create equitable and accessible opportunities to increase the number of people with lived disability experience throughout the overall story-telling process. These initiatives increase diverse and authentic representation of disabled people on screen, leading to systemic change in how society views and values people with disabilities. She has consulted on more than 100 TV episodes and films with A&E, Bunim-Murray Productions, NBCUniversal, Netflix, ViacomCBS, and The Walt Disney Company, among others. She represents RespectAbility on the CAA Full Story Initiative Advisory Council, Disney+ Content Advisory Council, MTV Entertainment Group Culture Code and Sundance Institute’s Allied Organization Initiative. She is the author of The Hollywood Disability Inclusion Toolkit and the creator of an innovative Lab Program for entertainment professionals with disabilities working in development, production and post-production. She is a recipient of the 2020 Roddenberry Foundation Impact Award for this Lab. To reach her, email [email protected]

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