Union for Reform Judaism Puts Spotlight on Accessibility and Reform Jewish Life During Month of February
In observance of Jewish Disability Awareness Month (JDAM), the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) is devoting the month of February to highlighting the URJ's many resources to help Reform congregations welcome those with special needs and disabilities.
Contact: Annette Powers
Feb. 2011, New York In observance of
Jewish Disability Awareness Month
(JDAM), the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) is devoting the month of
February to highlighting the URJs many resources to help Reform
congregations welcome those with special needs
Some of these resources include Special Needs camps and Israel programs; ideas for
b'nei mitzvah planning, religious school, and congregational needs; and best practices from congregations across the continent.
Reform congregations are paving the way in this arena. For example,
Congregation Children of Israel in Augusta, Georgia had 8th grade
students conduct an extensive handicapped accessibility survey, choose
one improvement that needed to be made and raised money
to accomplish that goal. And Congregation Rodeph Sholom in New York
City was recently awarded a
URJ Incubator Grant for
their special needs worship services pilot project, designed to provide
families and children with special needs with the opportunity to worship
together in an accessible, inclusive, and sensitive
Details about these and many other projects can be found on the URJ disabilities page, which hosts a variety of resources
including videos, blog entries, personal stories, educator resources,
worship resources, best practices and more.
items will be added to the webpage throughout the month and a
comprehensive list of resources on special needs rights and advocacy can
be found on
the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism's page. Twitter users can join in the discussion by
following and using the hashtag #JDAM.
Together we can use this month to break down physical, communication,
and attitudinal barriers, educate our communities on what accessibility
and inclusion really mean, and reach out to Jews with disabilities and
special needs, said URJ President, Rabbi Eric
H. Yoffie. Our goal is the full participation in the spiritual,
educational and communal aspects of synagogue life for people living
with disabilities and for their families.
JDAM promotes the idea that living a Jewish life is not dependent on
one's ability but rather on one's desire to live Jewishly in the world,
said JDAM founder Shelly Christensen. The number of congregations
and communities recognizing Jewish Disability
Awareness Month grows each year. Jews with disabilities and their
families are no longer missing from the snapshot of Jewish life. Many
people who were once on the margins of Jewish life are now deeply
involved in synagogues and Jewish institutions as members,
professionals, volunteers, leaders, students and worshipers.