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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. [continue reading…]

Los Angeles, California, August 13 – The disability nonprofit RespectAbility is pleased to announce the release of a new toolkit to help congregations ensure their High Holiday services and related events are accessible – “Opening All Gates: Making High Holiday Celebrations Accessible to All, In Person and Online.”

The rise of the Delta variant and the continuing COVID-19 pandemic will cause many synagogues and communities of worship to move their services online. Some communities will aim to have a hybrid experience with an in-person component. Even as the Jewish world continues to determine how to create a meaningful, spiritual experience in each format, the experience must be accessible to all.

Recognizing this, RespectAbility has created a revised edition of the “Opening Your Virtual Gates” toolkit that we created last year with the help of Rabbis Lauren Tuchman and Darby Leigh. The toolkit provided resources to help congregations ensure that virtual services included the one in five Jews with disabilities. Leigh, who is Deaf, and Tuchman, who is blind, brought both their deep knowledge as rabbis and critical lived experiences. “Opening All Gates” updates this content, while adding in content for in-person and hybrid services. [continue reading…]

Joshua Steinberg headshot wearing a suit and tie

Joshua Steinberg

Joshua Steinberg lives near the beach and enjoys spending his free time there, as well as walking and playing fetch with his beloved dog Shady. During the day, Steinberg spends his time working to make change possible for others with disabilities. Recently that has included fighting to ensure that people with disabilities who rely on food stamps can get food delivered at home. That way they do not have to risk a virus in-order-to eat.

“It only takes one act of kindness to change a person’s life for the better,” he said. “People with disabilities are often an overlooked population. I do not believe that having a disability should hinder you from success, and because of that, it is my passion and mission in life to give others with disabilities the opportunities and skills they need to succeed with their disability and advance their lives for the better.” [continue reading…]


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The COVID-19 pandemic is causing many synagogues and communities of worship to move at least part of their high holiday services, if not all, to an online format. The Jewish world is spending significant time and energy determining how to create a meaningful, spiritual experience online, and we want to ensure it also is accessible to the one in five Jews with disabilities. The good news is that it is easy to make online services, and related events, accessible to everyone if you know how. This webinar will get you started.

Join the co-authors of RespectAbility’s High Holiday Toolkit for streaming services, entitled; “Opening Your Virtual Gates: Making Online High Holiday Celebrations Accessible to All.” We provided a working introduction to the resources available in the guide as well as a Q&A for audience members to get their questions answered about accessibility for virtual high holiday services. [continue reading…]

Read the transcript
Download the accessible PowerPoint

While our main focus is on doing inclusion right, at some point your organization may need to know little bit about its legal rights and obligations. This session will cover those topics, including the special sensitivities and limitations applying to religious organizations.

Panelists Include

  • Moderator: Matan Koch – Director of RespectAbility California and Jewish Leadership
  • Ariella Barker – Former RespectAbility Fellow
  • Robert “Bobby” Silverstein – Principal, Powers Pyles Sutter & Verville PC
  • Matthew W. Dietz, Esq. – Litigation Director, Disability Independence Group, Inc.

[continue reading…]

Acknowledgements

This document exists because of several current and former members of RespectAbility’s professional team: Lauren Appelbaum, Eric Ascher, Debbie Fink, Matan Koch, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi and Joshua Steinberg, and the dedication of several dynamic board members, past and present, including our Jewish Inclusion co-chairs Shelley Richman Cohen and Vivian Bass, as well as Linda Burger, Judith Creed, Heidi Krizer Daroff, Ila Eckhoff, Neil Jacobson, Dana Marlow, Donna Meltzer, Gabrielle Einstein Sim and Delbert Whetter. RespectAbility also thanks three of our National Leadership Fellows, Baksha Ali (Spring 2020), Blair Webb (Summer 2020) and Nicole Olarsch (Summer 2021), for their research assistance.

The toolkit reaches its true vibrance and value, however, because of the contributions of our co-authors, Rabbi Lauren Tuchman and Rabbi Darby Leigh, for bringing their learning and experience as rabbis with disabilities to this project, and Sharon Ann Dror, who provided valuable feedback to the authors.

[continue reading…]

RespectAbility was thrilled that nearly 200 participants from six different countries including the United States, Canada, Israel, United Kingdom, Germany and Argentina registered to attend the informative and innovative webinar held on July 7th entitled `How to Recruit, Accommodate and Promote Jewish Leaders with Disabilities.” This session was the third in a series of seven such webinars generously funded by The Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles through a Cutting Edge Grant, The Diane and Guilford Glazer Philanthropies, and The Charles & Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation among others. Additionally, nearly 45 local and national/international Jewish organizations are serving as co-promoters for this series.

As Co-Chair of RespectAbility’s Global Jewish Inclusion work, I was pleased and proud to serve as moderator for this stellar webinar in tandem with the superb panelists Lee Chertosky, and Lori Golden. [continue reading…]

#ADA30 Summit 2020

Matan Koch headshotMatan 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. [continue reading…]

Los Angeles, California, June 10 – A coalition of more than 40 Jewish organizations, led by the disability nonprofit RespectAbility, is pleased to announce a new Jewish Disability Access & Inclusion Training Series. This seven-part series, which will run virtually from June 23 through August 11 is a collective offering to the Jewish world so Jewish organizations can welcome, respect and include people with disabilities from all backgrounds in the important work that they do.

Jewish organizations partnering in the series include the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ), Reconstructing Judaism, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, Jewish Women International (JWI) and dozens of others. Eric Fingerhut, President and CEO of JFNA said, “We will have reached a major milestone in Jewish community building when we no longer need to identify ways to remove barriers to participation.” [continue reading…]

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