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October 4, 2015 | 21st Tishrei 5776
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Reform Jewish Leadership Summit on Disabilities

Contact: Donald Cohen-Cutler

Sean Thibault

October 7 Summit on Disabilities Launches Dialogue
Disabilities Awareness Initiative Looks to Make Reform Jewish Life Accessible to All

Washington, DC—Rabbis, cantors, heads of professional organizations, and lay leaders from across North America will gather Sunday, October 7, at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism to discuss how to make Jewish life more accessible and welcoming to those with special needs and disabilities during the first ever Reform Leadership Summit on Disabilities.

“The hallmark of Reform Judaism is making all things Jewish available to all who seek them,” explains Rabbi Lynne Landsberg, who became the senior advisor on disabilities for the Department of Jewish Family Concerns after she suffered a traumatic brain injury in a 1999 car accident. “Reform Jews have worked for years to make our Movement ‘gender neutral.’ Now we must join together again to work harder—but hopefully not longer—to make the Jewish world ‘ability neutral.’”

Over the past year the Union has led pilot programs on disabilities at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, run test seminars in congregations, and helped sponsor summer camp experiences at URJ Camps for families dealing with autism as part of the Disabilities Awareness Initiative.

“This summit is the beginning of a long process,” said Rabbi Richard Address, director of the Union for Reform Judaism’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns. “By bringing the best minds of the Reform Movement together with experts in this field, we hope to start a journey towards accessible Judaism for all.”

Meetings will begin 9:30 in the morning with personal testimonies from individual Reform Jews with disabilities and how Jewish world has help and hindered their Jewish experience. Ginny Thornburgh, a vice president of the National Organization on Disability, and director of the NOD’s Religion and Disability program, will be the keynote speaker.

Coverage is invited and to request press credentials please contact Sean Thibault at the Religious Action Center: 202.387.2800 or

The Reform Leadership Summit on Disabilities and the Disability Awareness Initiative is a project of the Union for Reform Judaism’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns in collaboration with URJ Camps and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. For more information about the Summit or the Initiative please visit:
The Union for Reform Judaism (formerly the Union of American Hebrew Congregations) is the central body of Reform Judaism in North America, uniting 1.5 million Reform Jews in more than 900 synagogues. Union services include camps, music and book publishing, outreach to unaffiliated and intermarried Jews, educational programs, and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington, D.C.


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