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Project Moses Applications Open

As we prepare for Shabbat, I’m so pleased to share with you that the Project Moses website is live, at www.respectability.org/projectmoses, and that we are accepting applications. With that excitement, I’m asking for your help. For those who have not yet read about it in a previous Shabbat Smile, Project Moses is RespectAbility’s new leadership program to train talented, civic-minded Jews with disabilities to join a leadership cohort in the Los Angeles Jewish community. It is made possible by the generosity of the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles and other funders. We are recruiting for our first 36 participants.

When God set out to take the Israelite people from Egypt to the Land of Israel, from slavery to freedom, and from the dust to a shining light into the nations, God knew exactly who the right leader was, and chose Moses, a person with a disability. The text makes clear that this was not incidental, but an important part of why God chose Moses. God valued the combination of all of Moses’ skills and experiences, which included his disability.

As the Director of Project Moses, I share the conviction that the Jewish people will find the leaders that it needs among the talented Jews with disabilities. And yet, as I look for my first 36 “Moseses” (as we are calling our aspiring Jewish leaders with disabilities in Los Angeles), I am an all too human Jewish professional who needs you to help me find my Moseses.

Now you’re probably asking yourself: what is a Moses? At the end of our program, we hope that a Moses will be a talented Jewish leader, serving the Jewish community and using the skills and mentorship that we will impart.

Right now, Moses candidates are Jews with physical, visual, hearing, learning, mental illness or any other disability in Los Angeles who have a passion for leadership and making the world a better place. They are adults of any age whose collegiate level academic achievement or equivalent professional, vocational or volunteer experience already has given them meaningful skills, but who have not yet:

  • had the opportunity to gain the specific skills and connections that would allow them to lead in the Jewish community, or
  • gotten what they feel that they need in order to deliver their talents to Jewish organizations, or
  • surmounted being blocked from leadership due to previous lack of access or awareness around disability, or
  • managed to move their leadership experience to the next level, or
  • any or all of the above.

So here are my three asks:

1) Does this describe you? If the answer is yes, visit www.respectability.org/projectMoses/application, and fill out a nonbinding preliminary application, which really just says that you want to meet with me to discuss being a part of the project.

2) Does this describe someone whom you know whom you think might be interested? If so, please direct them to the application, or just forward this Shabbat Smile.

3) Finally, if you are a professional or volunteer with access to lists with a broad reach in the Los Angeles area, please forward this along.

Stepping back in time: every part of Moses’ leadership was accomplished with help. Aaron served as the divinely appointed reasonable accommodation. Similarly, both I and the Moseses will best fully realize our goals if the community comes together behind us.

At this moment in our launch, both human and financial help are critical. If you want to:

  • support the program monetarily, please visit www.respectability.org/donate.
  • volunteer your time to help us as our programming begins, please email me at matank@respectability.org.
    • While we are primarily looking for Los Angeles-based volunteers, there may be remote opportunities so feel free to reach out with any of your gifts that you wish to offer.

Together, we will enrich the Jewish community with the leadership of modern Moseses.

Shabbat Shalom,
Matan Koch
Director of Project Moses and General Counsel
RespectAbility

Meet the Author

Matan Koch
Matan Koch

Matan A. Koch is the Director of RespectAbility California and Jewish Leadership at RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. A longtime national leader in disability advocacy and a wheelchair user himself, he leads Project Moses, RespectAbility’s Los Angeles-based Jewish leadership project, and is also on the front lines in many other areas of RespectAbility’s work, including: disability inclusion in philanthropy and nonprofits, Jewish outreach and impact, leadership, legal affairs and our continuing Los Angeles expansion.

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