When the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed 27 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 his or her presence and participation is welcomed and meaningful. Below are free resources for all who care about inclusion and equal opportunity.
- High Holiday Synagogue Toolkit (DOCX)
- Jewish Synagogue Inclusion Toolkit
- More Resources: Jewish Inclusion Webinars
- “Union for Reform Judaism and Ruderman Family Foundation Deepen Partnership On Disabilities Inclusion Work” (Union for Reform Judaism, 3/21/17) – A new focus for the Ruderman Synagogue Inclusion Initiative
- “The Faces of Tomorrow” (eJewish Philanthropy, 2/2/15) – The importance of including Jews with disabilities in Jewish society, which requires a huge change from the norm
- “Success Story: Man with a Disability to Give Thousands to Charity” (Jewish Week, 5/14/14) – Article about philanthropist Jonah Selber, who has received services from JCHAI (Judith Creed Homes for Adult Independence)
- “KC killing was an attack on us all” (4/15/14) – Reaction towards the hate crime at the Jewish Community Center in Kansas City
- “Hate crimes, bomb threats, anxiety and people with disabilities” (Jewish Journal, 3/15/14) – Key issues and steps in case your organization received a bomb threat and/or is the target of a hate crime
- “The List: Biggest Inclusion Plays and Players of 2013” (Jewish Week, 01/02/2014) – A list of accomplishments on the inclusion of Jews with disabilities in 2013
- “Ruderman Family Foundation is funding the new Chalutzim” (Times of Israel, 12/11/13) – Training on including Jews with disabilities for American-Jewish leaders. Supported by the Ruderman Family Foundation
- “Embracing Those with Disabilities” (eJewish Philanthropy, 11/18/13), Jewish leaders increasingly see the importance of welcoming Jews with disabilities
- “Needed: A National Strategy for Including Jews With Special Needs” (Jewish Week, 7/11/12) – The importance of including people with disabilities in Jewish society
- Poll: “Jewish Camp for Children with Disabilities and Special Needs” (Times of Israel, 3/4/14) – Results from our poll with Foundation for Jewish Camp regarding how Jews with disabilities are included at Jewish overnight camps
- Poll: “New Poll of Faith in the Disability Community Released” (1/30/14) – Results from our poll regarding how Jews with disabilities are engaged in Jewish society
- Poll: “Online Poll of Jews” (September 2013) – Results from our poll with Jerusalem U regarding Jews’ opinions on the importance of certain aspects of Judaism
- Poll: “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”(9/10/13) – Results from our poll with Jerusalem U on including Jews with disabilities in Jewish life
- “Mind the Inclusion Gap: Values vs. Reality” – Press about poll with Jerusalem U about including Jews with disabilities
- Poll: “Disabled Jews unlikely to affiliate” (San Diego Jewish World, 1/30/14) – Press about our poll regarding how Jews with disabilities are engaged in Jewish society
- “Protecting Jewish Survival by Including Jews with Disabilities” (Times of Israel, 10/15/13) – With so many Jews feeling unengaged in Judaism, it is pivotal to include Jews with disabilities, many of whom want to be engaged. References our poll with Jerusalem U.
- Poll: “American Jews with disabilities excluded by community” (Haaretz, 9/16/13) – Press about poll with Jerusalem U about including Jews with disabilities
- “A New Survey Reveals ‘A Distance between Words and Deeds’” (New York Jewish Week, 9/11/13) – Press about poll with Jerusalem U about including Jews with disabilities
- “Survey: Support of disabled Jews doesn’t translate into action” (Washington Jewish Week, 9/10/13) – Press about poll with Jerusalem U about including Jews with disabilities
Education and Children
- “Serving Jewish Children with Disabilities and their Families” (Journal of Jewish Communal Service, 12/10/14) – Viewpoint as to why educators should strive to create settings that are open to students of all abilities
- “Q&A: Camps Merge to Serve More Children, Together” (Jewish Week, 1/6/14) – Interview with Len Robinson, the CEO of NJY Camps, about integrating Round Lake campers with campers without disabilities
- “Enhanced Jewish Continuity and Pro-Israel Activism through Inclusion of Jews with Disabilities” – The importance of including Jews with disabilities, and an explanation of our goals towards this endeavor
- “12 Israeli Technologies Changing the Lives of the Disabled in 2015” (Forbes, 1/20/15) – Israeli technological breakthroughs for people with disabilities
- “Nalaga’at Theater at the Kennedy Center” (3/26/14) – Israel’s Nalaga’at Theater Deaf-Blind Acting Ensemble, RespectAbility, and the White House’s Claudia Gordon at the Kennedy Center
- “Israeli playground, ‘Sesame Street’ help include kids with disabilities” (Washington Jewish Week, 7/31/13) – Sesame Street in Israel modeling positive inclusion by introducing a character with disabilities
- “Can You Tell Me How To Get To An Inclusive Playground? (They’re In Israel)” (Jewish Week, 7/31/13) – Jean Judes, executive director of Beit Issie Shapiro, spoke to the UN Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities about the new Sesame Street character with disabilities
- “Stop by the vice president’s sukkah: VP Joe Biden invites children with disabilities to decorate a Chabad-built sukkah at his DC residence” (Times of Israel, 9/24/13) – Vice President Biden and Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden welcomed DC children with disabilities to decorate a sukkah at Number One Observatory Circle
- “The 10 Commandments of Politics for People with Disabilities” (Jewish Week, 3/21/13) – How to make a difference on issues you care about, with a “Passover spin”
RespectAbility in the News
- “RespectAbility named one of America’s Most Innovative Organizations” (10/20/14) – Slingshot includes RespectAbility in A Resource Guide to Jewish Innovation ’14-‘15
- “RespectAbility Celebrates 1st Anniversary of Jewish Inclusion Work for Jews with Disabilities” (7/9/14) – Overview of what we accomplished in our first year, as well as plans for the future
- “Jewish Activists Unite for RespectAbility: The D.C.-based non-profit organization empowers people with disabilities” (Tablet, 8/5/13) – Article about the launch of RespectAbility, with a focus on Jennifer Laszlo-Mizrahi and Donn Weinberg
Do you know other people or organizations that should be included as a resource?
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