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Jewish Inclusion

Deborah Calla Serves as Role Model for Inclusion During  Jewish Disabilities Awareness and Inclusion Month

Deborah Calla smiling for the camera

Deborah Calla

Rockville, Md., Feb. 16 – Deborah Calla is a Brazilian-born producer, writer and director. Calla is best known in the disability community for reviving the Media Access Awards (MAA). Her involvement in the disabilities movement and social justice stem from two sources: her professional experiences in Hollywood and her Judaism.

Calla came to film and TV by chance. A friend of a friend thought that because she directed and produced plays, she would be a good film producer, so he asked her to produce his first film.

“It was a very trying experience as I didn’t really know what I was doing and producing film can be an overwhelming effort especially if you have no experience,” Calla said. “In the end, I survived and loved it.”

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“Spectrum: A Story of the Mind” – ReelAbilities Film Fest Preview

Tuesday, February 27, 2018
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Congregation Har Shalom: 11510 Falls Rd, Potomac, MD 20854

RespectAbility, in partnership with Congregation Har Shalom, is proud to present the acclaimed film “Spectrum: A Story of the Mind” on Tuesday, February 27 at 7:00 p.m. in a sneak-peek preview event for the 2018 ReelAbilities Film Festival of Northern Virginia, which is organized by the Jewish Community Center of Northern VA.

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Jewish Disability Advocacy Day 2018

Jewish Disability Advocacy Day: On Capitol Hill, Washington DC, Sponsored by the Jewish Disability NetworkJewish Disability Advocacy Day took place on February 6, 2018.

Date: Tuesday, February 6, 2018
Time: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Location: Capitol Hill: Rayburn House Office Building, Rooms 2043, 2044, & 2045


Jewish Leaders Stand Up Against #ABLEISM

Grassroots Leaders Asked to Join in Fight Against Prejudice 

Washington, Nov. 27 –  Key national Jewish leaders are helping spread the word that “Ableism”, discrimination against people with disabilities, is unacceptable.

Grassroots advocates – people with disabilities and the people who love and respect them – are invited to join this social media effort to educate and advocate in support of equality and respect!

Activists can download their own copy of the sheet in the photos on our website. Then they can either put their Twitter address, or if they are not on Twitter, then put their name in the space.

Activists are invited to post the photo of themselves with the sign on Facebook and Twitter and tag RespectAbility on Facebook at and on Twitter using @Respect_Ability and @JewishInclusion. Photos below are just some of the terrific Jewish leaders who have joined this cause!
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Staying Post Partisan While Advocating for Disability Rights

Learning from The Jewish Federations of North America’s William Daroff

All of the fellows and staff standing in a large group against the wall with the RespectAbility logo all over it

William Daroff with RespectAbility Fellows and Staff

Rockville, Md., Aug. 21 – “We need people on both sides of the aisle to champion disability issues,” William Daroff told RespectAbility Fellows last month.

William Daroff speaking to RespectAbility Fellows

William Daroff speaking to RespectAbility Fellows

Daroff is a senior vice president for public policy and director of The Jewish Federations of North America. He works to ensure that the Federations’ public policy work is post partisan and post ideological and as close to the middle line of the road as possible. Throughout his career, he has played politics on both sides of the aisle and recognizes the importance of disability not becoming a partisan issue.

Daroff understands the challenges that student with disabilities face. Throughout his work, he has brought the violations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and lack of accommodation and consideration to the table for serious discussions.

“It is unfortunate that there needs to be a personal linkage to the disability world for people to take action,” Daroff said, recognizing the importance of relating to people.

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Rabbis Protest Trumps’ AIPAC Speech Over Disrespect for Minorities Including People with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., March 21 – Some Rabbis and other Jewish Americans are protesting Republican front-runner Donald Trump’s lack of inclusion for minorities including people with disabilities ahead of his scheduled speech to the AIPAC Policy Conference this evening.

While many of AIPAC’s delegates who oppose Trump speaking tonight are upset with the businessman’s violent rhetoric on groups like Muslims and Mexicans, the Republican front-runner also has verbally attacked individuals with disabilities, expanding stigmas that have been undermining people with disabilities for ages.

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, has expressed his concern about Trump’s level of intolerance for several groups including individuals with disabilities.

“We will hold him accountable to all of the groups that he is not just disrespecting but denigrating in his speeches and his policy commitments,” Jacobs said Monday morning. “It is unacceptable in America and it is unacceptable according to our Jewish tradition.”

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RespectabilityUSA & DCJCC Announce Inclusive Community Service Opportunities for Middle and High Schoolers With and Without Disabilities

Washington, D.C. – The Washington DCJCC, with more than 25 years of proven leadership in providing safe, outstanding volunteer service opportunities, and RespectAbilityUSA, a non-profit organization working to empower people with disabilities to achieve the American dream, are thrilled to announce the second summer of community service opportunities for Washington-area middle and high school students open to students with all abilities.

The non-sectarian program will be staffed by experienced CPR-certified professionals. Staff members include para-educators and special education teachers from the Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) programs for children with Asperger’s along and with DCJCC staff.

The program will offer three one-week sessions, two for high school students and one for middle school students where they can earn between 20-25 Student Service Learning credit hours. Each session will have two counselors and teachers/para-educators as needed for the students with disabilities. Students will have the opportunity to earn community service hours in a safe, fun, fully integrated and enriching environment.

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RespectAbility Celebrates 1st Anniversary of Jewish Inclusion Work for Jews with Disabilities!!!!!!

Washington, DC. RespectAbility, a non-profit organization working to empower Americans with disabilities to achieve the American Dream, is celebrating the first anniversary of its work to empower Jews with disabilities to be included in Jewish life.

Since its inception only one year ago, RespectAbility has worked to help Jewish groups become more inclusive communities. According to the U.S. Census, 18.6% of Americans have a disability. This includes 13% of public school children. Given that there are 5.3 million Jews in America, this means that there are at least 985,500 Jews with disabilities. However, as Jews carry genetic risks and on average have children later in life than any other demographic group it is likely that we have more disabilities per capita than others, including higher rates of Autism, mental health and other issues linked to parental age.

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RespectAbilityUSA & DCJCC Announce New Community Service Opportunities for Middle and High Schoolers With Disabilities

Washington, D.C. – The Washington DCJCC, with more than 25 years of proven leadership in providing safe outstanding volunteer service opportunities, and RespectAbilityUSA, a non-profit organization working to empower people with disabilities to achieve the American dream, are thrilled to announce the formation of community service opportunities for Washington area Middle and High School students with disabilities.

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New poll data of 2607 Jews: These Jews feel strongly about inclusion of people with disabilities, even more so than Israel, Jewish life, marrying Jewish, or having Jewish kids

September 10, 2013 

1/5 of Jews with disabilities in sample have “been turned away or unable to participate in a Jewish event or activity because of the disability”

Bethesda, MD. In a new poll of 2607 Jews done for and, data shows that the Jews polled, including young Jews, felt very strongly about inclusion of Jews with disabilities. Indeed, they feel even more strongly about inclusion of people with disabilities in Jewish life than they feel about being connecting to Israel, marrying Jewish or having Jewish children, although they were strong on these issues as well. The sample is more likely to be of Jews who are somehow engaged in the community than in a random sample. However, because the sample size is so large, the differences between age groups and other key demographics are valid and pronounced.

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