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Jewish and Faith Inclusion

When the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed more than 30 years ago, it exempted faith-based organizations. Thus, many such organizations do have not yet have the attitudes, physical facilities or training they need to appropriately welcome people of all abilities. Given the very important role that faith and faith-based organizations play in America, RespectAbility is working for full inclusion in all faith groups. However, it has started its faith-based inclusion work with a focus on the Jewish community and institutions. As model practices are established, we will work broadly across faiths to share best practices.

RespectAbility understands that the Jewish community, like all communities, is stronger when it lives up to its values – when it is welcoming, diverse, moral, and respects each other. We want children, parents, grandparents, friends, and other family members with disabilities to be able to fully participate in their communities. We know that many people with disabilities are having a challenging time gaining access to our agencies, synagogues and community.

A Slingshot-recognized organization, RespectAbility is on the front lines – working to ensure that everyone knows that their presence and participation is welcomed and meaningful. Below are free resources for all who care about inclusion and equal opportunity.

National Disability Speakers Bureau: Jewish Division

The Jewish world is becoming steadily more aware of, and eager for, contributions of people with disabilities. As such, Jewish speakers in our Disability Training and Speakers Bureau are available to speak virtually (for the time being) at Jewish conferences, synagogues and organizations.

Jewish Disability Perspectives

Jewish Disability Perspectives lifts up and amplifies the great work of Jews with and without disabilities serving the disability community throughout the U.S. and Israel. RespectAbility is honored to share these critical missions through our weekly newsletter and online. Do you want to subscribe or do you have something for us? Please reach out to Joshua Steinberg at JoshuaS@RespectAbility.org.

“Leaders of the Future” Leadership Series for Jews with Disabilities

Headshots of speakers in RespectAbility's Speakers Bureau Jewish division. Text: “Leaders of the Future” Leadership Series for Jews with DisabilitiesIncluding people with disabilities is something that more than 90% of Jewish organizations say they want to do and yet a survey of the Jewish world shows that fewer than 15% of Jews can identify a single leader with a disability in Jewish communal life. This series was a complement to our previous series training organizations, and was designed to introduce Jewish lay leaders with disabilities to topics and skills that will help them to lead as volunteers and professionals in nonprofit organizations.

Disability Access and Inclusion Training Series for Jewish Organizations and Activists

Six Jews with and without disabilities smile together in a large conference room. Text: Disability Access and Inclusion Training Series for Jewish Organizations and Activists RespectAbility.org/Jewish-Events #JewishInclusionJewish organizations, leaders and activists were invited to a free online training series so they could learn how to welcome, respect and include people with disabilities from all backgrounds in the important work that they do. All sessions included American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters and captions, and were screen reader accessible.

What Do You Pray For?

Title card for What Do You Pray For? Ben Rosloff is in the forest in the background“What Do You Pray For?” is a series of short interviews of Jews with disabilities who tell viewers in their own words what they pray for and what prayer means to them. The project features Jews with various disabilities from across the United States, with a myriad of different connections to their Jewish identity. Watch the videos and read the transcripts at the links below.

  • Erika Abbott: Writer / Award-Winning Poet
  • Ariella Barker: Attorney, Policy Advisor and Communications Specialist
  • Justin Borses: Former College Student and employee at Moorpark College
  • Lee Chernotsky: Founder and CEO, ROSIES Foundation
  • Samantha Elisofon: Award-Winning Actress (“Keep the Change”) and member of EPIC Players, A Neuro-inclusive Theater Company in Brooklyn
  • Alex Howard: Entertainment Media and Jewish Inclusion Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program
  • Matan Koch: Director of RespectAbility California and Jewish Leadership
  • Amy Rosenfeld-Kass: Teacher from The Saul and Carole Zabar Nursery School at the JCC
  • Ben Rosloff: Communications and Jewish Inclusion Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program
  • Rachel Rothstein: 4th year Rabbinical Student at the Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion
  • Barry Shore: Ambassador of Joy and Successful Serial Entrepreneur
  • Ari Sloan: Member of EPIC Players who is living with Autism
  • Joshua Steinberg: Program Associate for RespectAbility California and Jewish Leadership
  • Rabbi Lauren Tuchman: Rabbi, Public Speaker, Spiritual Leader and Educator
  • Blair Webb: System Change Youth Advocate at MEET THE BIZ and former Jewish Inclusion Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program
  • Aaron Wolf: Co-founder of Howling Wolf Productions and Award-winning Actor, Director, Speaker, and Activist

Opening All Gates: Making High Holiday Celebrations Accessible to All, In Person and Online

Download the accessible Word document or view each section of the toolkit by following the links below:

Jewish Inclusion Toolkit

Polls on Jewish Inclusion

Education and Children

Israel

Holidays

RespectAbility in the News

General Inclusion

Do you know other people or nonprofit organizations that should be included as a resource?

Contact our Communications Associate, Eric Ascher, at EricA@RespectAbility.org.

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