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Poll: Most California Jews Don’t Know Any Rabbis or Staff with Disabilities

Mental health conditions listed as most common disability in Jewish community

Los Angeles, California, Jan. 9 – More than 4000 respondents participated in a RespectAbility survey focused on the inclusion of people with disabilities in faith communities in America. This includes 183 Jews with disabilities in California and additional 79 with no disability connection in the state. Fully 104 of the respondents reported that they are served by the Jewish Federation of Greater LA. Nationally the poll includes more than 900 Jews who self-disclose that they are a person with a disability.

Text: Do you know of any clergy or staff with disabilities at your own faith based institutions? Pie chart with results.

Only 17% of Jewish respondents with disabilities in California know of any clergy or staff with disabilities at their synagogue.

The Jewish respondents with disabilities in California and across the nation point to a lack of people with disabilities in leadership roles as clergy or staff at Jewish institutions. They also do not fully feel welcomed to serve as leaders in lay positions in the Jewish community either. Only 15 percent of Jews with disabilities know of a person with a disability in a leadership position. Only 6 percent of the California Jews with no disability connection who were polled know of a person with a disability in leadership. Nationally it is slightly higher at nearly 10 percent. Only 13 percent of California Jews in the disability community answer “yes” that they “feel that people with disabilities are encouraged to serve on the boards and committees of your faith-based institutions.” This is also five points lower than the national results of 18 percent.

Said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, RespectAbility’s president who herself is dyslexic, “If you see it, you can be it – and today Jews with disabilities need more role models with disabilities in leadership in the Jewish community. Many also want to be recruited, trained and empowered to make the Jewish community stronger, just like anyone else.” [continue reading…]

Poll: Most D.C.-area Jews Don’t Know Any Rabbis or Staff with Disabilities

Concerns High on Access to Healthcare, Education, Jobs, Fighting Stigmas and Jewish Inclusion

Washington, D.C., January 7, 2019 – More than 4000 respondents participated in a RespectAbility survey focused on the inclusion of people with disabilities in faith communities in America. This includes 133 Jews in the disability community in the Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia area, and an additional 42 with no disability connection in this region. More than 900 Jews who self-disclose they are a person with a disability participated in the study overall.

Text: Do you know of any clergy or staff with disabilities at your own faith based institutions? Pie chart with results.

59% of Jewish D.C.-area respondents with disabilities do not know of any clergy or staff with disabilities at their synagogue.

The Jewish respondents with disabilities in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia (DMV) region and across the nation point to a lack of people with disabilities in leadership roles as Rabbis, cantors or staff at Jewish institutions. While overall things are improving significantly in terms of access and inclusion for Jews with disabilities in the DMV, they also do not yet fully feel welcomed to serve as leaders in lay positions in the Jewish community. Only 15 percent of Jews with disabilities know of a person with a disability in a leadership position. Nationally fewer than 10 percent of Jews with no disability connection know of a person with a disability in leadership. Only 17 percent of area Jews in the disability community answer “yes” that they “feel that people with disabilities are encouraged to serve on the boards and committees of your faith-based institutions,” which is in line with the national results at 18 percent.

Said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of RespectAbility, “If you see it, you can be it – and today Jews with disabilities need more role models with disabilities in leadership in the Jewish community. Many also want to be recruited, trained and empowered to make the Jewish community stronger, just like anyone else.” [continue reading…]

The Perfect Gift For People With Disabilities? A Job.

This holiday season people are looking for the perfect gifts for loved ones. For millions of Americans with disabilities, the gift they want is a job.

Employment is about a lot more than just a paycheck: it provides a way to contribute to the community; the chance to develop friendships; and a way to improve health. As with all of us, the work we do, the career we pursue, often defines us.

Our nation was founded on the principle that anyone who works hard should be able to get ahead in life. People with disabilities deserve an equal opportunity to earn an income, achieve independence and be included, just like anyone else.

Studies show that 70 percent of working-age people with disabilities would like to work and the majority of youth with disabilities can succeed at a job when given the right opportunities and supports. [continue reading…]

Poll: Most NY Jews Don’t Know Any Rabbis or Staff with Disabilities

New York Jewish Community on Inclusion of People with Disabilities in Faith Communities Shows Concerns on Access to Healthcare, Education, Jobs, Fighting Stigmas and Jewish Inclusion

Washington, D.C., Dec. 21 – More than 4000 respondents participated in a RespectAbility survey focused on the inclusion of people with disabilities in faith communities in America. This includes more than 900 individuals who self-disclose that they are a person with a disability. This includes 172 Jews in the disability community in New York, and an additional 75 with no disability connection.

Text: Do you know of any clergy or staff with disabilities at your own faith based institutions? Pie chart with results.

Only 15% of Jewish New York respondents with disabilities know of any clergy or staff with disabilities at their synagogue.

The Jewish respondents with disabilities in New York and across the nation point to a lack of people with disabilities in leadership roles as clergy or staff at Jewish institutions. They also do not fully feel welcomed to serve as leaders in lay positions in the Jewish community. Only 15 percent of Jews with disabilities know of a person with a disability in a leadership position. Only seven percent of the New York Jews with no disability connection who were polled know of a person with a disability in leadership. Nationally it is slightly higher at nearly 10 percent. Only 12 percent of New York Jews in the disability community answer “yes” that they “feel that people with disabilities are encouraged to serve on the boards and committees of your faith-based institutions.” This is also six points lower than the national results of 18 percent.

Said Shelley Cohen, co-founder of RespectAbility and leader of the Jewish Inclusion Project, “If you see it, you can be it – and today Jews with disabilities need more role models with disabilities in leadership in the Jewish community. Many also want to be recruited, trained and empowered to make the Jewish community stronger, just like anyone else.” [continue reading…]

People with Disabilities Thank Sen. John Cornyn for Leadership on Criminal Justice Reform

Sen. John Cornyn giving a speech at a podium in front of a red and white background

Sen. John Cornyn

Washington, D.C., Dec. 19 – RespectAbility, a nonprofit disabilities organization, thanks Senator John Cornyn for his leadership on criminal justice reform. Said Hon. Steve Bartlett, the former Dallas mayor and member of Congress who now chairs RespectAbility, “While a large number of Members of the House and Senate were pivotal in creating and passing Criminal Justice Reform, and we are grateful to all involved, Senator John Cornyn stepped forward at key moments to assure the success of this reform. In particular, he was crucial to assuring successful Senate passage by a wide margin during Senate floor debate and floor action. Courageous, focused, statesmanlike, relentless, pivotal are words that describe Senator Cornyn’s leadership in Criminal Justice Reform.”

Bartlett continued, “While this Reform will positively affect the entire US population, the Reform has a profound and disproportionate effect on those with disabilities. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 32 percent of federal prisoners and 40 percent of people in jail have at least one disability. As a fellow Texan, and National Chairman of Respectability, I am personally proud of Senator Cornyn’s leadership.” [continue reading…]

People with Disabilities to Benefit as Criminal Justice Reform Passes Senate

A wooden gavel hitting a circle raised on a desk

Washington, D.C., Dec. 18 – As Congress advances our national dialogue on criminal justice reform, it is critical to remember that criminal justice issues are issues that dramatically impact people with disabilities. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 32 percent of federal prisoners and 40 percent of people in jail have at least one disability.

RespectAbility, a nonprofit disability organization, estimates that more than 750,000 people with disabilities are behind bars in America today. This includes 140,000 who are blind or have vision loss, approximately the same number who are deaf or have significant hearing loss and more than 200,000 who have mobility issues. The largest group, which includes more than half a million people, has cognitive impairments. Some have multiple disabilities.

On Tuesday, the Senate passed a set of reforms that could enable tens of thousands of people with disabilities to exit incarceration by an 87-12 vote. The House is expected to pass the bill later this week, sending it to President Trump for his signature. “These developments reflect a bipartisan consensus on the need to address mass incarceration, disproportionate sentencing, and re-entry supports for returning citizens — all issues that disproportionally impact people with disabilities.” said Hon. Steve Bartlett, the former Dallas mayor and member of Congress who now chairs RespectAbility.  “These efforts have garnered support from the White House and Governors from both parties across the country.” [continue reading…]

Short Film about Playground Inclusion wins International Acclaim

Rockville, Maryland, Dec. 6 – All kids want to play. Kids with disabilities are no different. “Ian” is a short, animated film inspired by the real-life Ian, a boy with a disability determined to get to the playground despite his playmates bullying him. This film sets out to show that children with disabilities can and should be included.

“Ian” premiered for audiences around the world on YouTube and was broadcast in Latin America simultaneously on Disney Junior, Cartoon Network, Discovery Kids, Nickelodeon, PakaPaka and YouTube Kids Nov. 30, 2018.

“Ian” started as a mother’s mission to educate her son’s bullies on the playground—one to one. When she realized that the need for inclusion was bigger than one playground, she wrote a book and founded Fundación ian to change thousands of minds and attitudes about people with disabilities. She approached MundoLoco, a top digital animation studio in Latin America, about creating “Ian,” an animated film to deliver the message of inclusion to audiences all over the world. [continue reading…]

Remembering George H.W. Bush

President George H.W. Bush signs the Americans with Disabilities Act into law, surrounded by two wheelchair users and two people standing behind him.

President George H.W. Bush signs the Americans with Disabilities Act into law.

Washington, D.C., Dec. 3 – On November 30, 2018, America lost a champion for people with disabilities, President George H.W. Bush. In 1990, Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law, which prohibited discrimination against people with disabilities. The law improved the lives of millions of Americans with disabilities.

“Among President George H.W. Bush’s lifetime accomplishments, perhaps his most profound and impactful is the ADA,” said Hon. Steve Bartlett, who serves as Chairman of RespectAbility’s Board of Directors and who worked with Bush on the ADA. “He was the originator and the force behind the ADA. He consistently gave others the credit. Indeed, he announced his proposal that became the ADA the evening before his inaugural, surprising everyone in Washington except Boyden Gray and Justin Dart. The President allowed Congress to do the legislating of course, but he personally guided the process gently but firmly for 18 months. Millions of Americans with disabilities, and their friends and families, live better lives because of George H.W. Bush. Thank you Mr. President.” [continue reading…]

Candidates Who Support Opportunities for People with Disabilities Won Big

Election 2018: Candidates who support opportunities for people with disabilities win big. RespectAbility logo. image of American flag with disability symbol (wheelchair) instead of starsWashington, D.C., Nov. 19 – Key senate and gubernatorial candidates from both sides of the political aisle who support opportunities for people with disabilities won big this election, showing that disability rights is a winning issue.

There are 56 million people with disabilities (one in five Americans), more than 35 million of whom are eligible voters (one-sixth of the electorate). According to a recent survey, 74 percent of likely voters have a disability themselves or have a family member or a close friend with disabilities. Voters are more likely to support candidates who prioritize ensuring that children with disabilities get the education and training they need to succeed as well expanding job and career opportunities for people with disabilities.

“Candidates for office ignore the disability community at their peril,” said former U.S. Representative and Dallas Mayor Steve Bartlett. Bartlett, who was a primary author of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, is the chairman of RespectAbility.

Several candidates responded earlier during the campaign season to a disability issues questionnaire for Senate and gubernatorial candidates put out by RespectAbility, a nonpartisan, nonprofit national organization working to end stigmas and advance opportunities for people with disabilities. Candidates from both sides of the aisle completed the questionnaire, showing that disability rights is a bipartisan issue. The responses also are geographically-diverse, coming from states around the country, as politicians are paying more attention to the disability community. RespectAbility is nonpartisan and does not endorse candidates. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes.

Others submitted proclamations for National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) to RespectAbility. This year, people with disabilities and employers have clear reason to celebrate. More than 343,000 Americans with disabilities got new jobs last year, a fourfold improvement in job gains compared to the previous year. Expanding employment opportunities is bipartisan, as both Democrats and Republicans are quick to recognize the abilities of what people with disabilities can accomplish.

“Our nation was founded on the principle that anyone who works hard should be able to get ahead in life,” said RespectAbility’s President, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi. “People with disabilities deserve equal opportunity to earn an income and achieve independence just like anyone else.”

Of those who responded to the national questionnaire or provided NDEAM proclamations, 20 candidates have won their election. These include Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX), Gov. Kate Brown (D-OR), Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), Gov. Doug Ducey (R-AZ), Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD), Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR), Gov. David Ige (D-HI), Gov. Kay Ivey (R-AL), State Sen. Laura Kelly (D-KS), Gov. Henry McMaster (R-SC), Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), Businessman J.B. Pritzker (D-IL), Clark County Commission Chair Steve Sisolak (D-NV), Gov. Chris Sununu (R-NH) and Gov. Tom Wolf (D-PA), all of whom won races for governor; Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who won their senate races. [continue reading…]

Bunim/Murray Casting Directors Honored at Media Access Awards

2018 Recipients of the Casting Society of America Award

Jonathan Murray and the Born This Way cast present an award to Sasha Alpert and Megan Sleeper at the Media Access Awards 2018

Jonathan Murray and the Born This Way cast present an award to Sasha Alpert and Megan Sleeper at the 2018 Media Access Awards

Beverly Hills, California, Nov. 8 — Sasha Alpert (They Call Us Monsters, Autism: The Musical, Born This Way) and Megan Sleeper (UndressedBorn This Way) were honored at the Media Access Awards, which recently has formed a partnership with Easterseals Southern California, for their work to create inclusive entertainment that features the stories of people with disabilities. The ceremony honors media and entertainment trailblazers advancing disability awareness and inclusion.

Alpert, Executive Vice President of Programming and Development, and Sleeper, Senior Vice President of Casting, promote the culture of telling authentic stories of people with disabilities at Bunim/Murray Productions (BMP) through their casting, including for Born This Way.

Born This Way, an unscripted reality show on A&E that follows a group of seven young adults with Down syndrome in Southern California, demonstrates that inclusive casting means not only including people with disabilities, but people with disabilities from many different demographics. [continue reading…]

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