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December 21, 2014 | 29th Kislev 5775
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Disability Inclusion

Our goal is the full participation in the spiritual, educational and social aspects of synagogue life for people living with disabilities and for their families.

New Partnership
Ruderman Family Foundation

Jay Ruderman
Jay Ruderman
Photo: Noam Galai

The URJ recently announced a new partnership with the Ruderman Family Foundation to launch the Ruderman Synagogue Inclusion Initiative, which aims to improve attitudes about inclusion and disabilities among community leaders and clergy, Jewish professionals, organizational leaders, and congregants, and to ensure full inclusion and participation of people with disabilities and their families in every aspect of Reform Jewish life.

Jay Ruderman commented on the partnership: "If we strive to be a light unto the nations, we must understand that social justice begins at home in our synagogues. The inclusion of all members of our community in our houses of worship will allow us to serve as shining examples to all those around us. We believe that our partnership with URJ in the creation of the Ruderman Synagogue Inclusion Initiative will provide the tools for all Reform congregations to become inclusive for all members of our community."

Learn more: "Action: Welcoming People with Disabilities" (Reform Judaism magazine, Summer 2014)

Make Your Congregation More Inclusive
Educator Resources
  • Torah at the Center: Inclusion
    The Winter 2011 issue of this publication for Jewish educators provides articles from educators, professionals, and lay leaders from all around the Reform Movement, each addressing the topic of creating an atmosphere of inclusion in all aspects of Jewish learning.
  • JDAM Reads for Children!
    JDAM Reads for Children! presents practical ideas for raising awareness of disabilities and encouraging tikkun
    using the picture book Jumping Jenny. Also includes information for a webinar featuring the book's author.
  • JDAM Reads! Discussion Guide for The Story of Beautiful Girl
    JDAM (Jewish Disability Awareness Month) Reads! is new this year affording book groups, congregations and communities to read a book together, and then discuss it using this discussion guide.
  • Praying with Lior: a Bar Mitzvah documentary
    Praying with Lior asks whether someone with Down syndrome can be a "spiritual genius." As this moving and entertaining documentary moves to its climax, Lior must pass through the gateway to manhood - his Bar Mitzvah.
  • What Makes a "Special Needs Bar Mitzvah" Truly Special
    by Becca Hornstein, Executive Director of Council for Jews with Special Needs
Worship Resources
NEW Online Learning Program

All URJ congregations and Reform professionals are invited to participate in the Ruderman Synagogue Inclusion Initiative Online Learning Program beginning fall 2014. Choose modules led by experts on inclusion in worship, religious school and b'nai mitzvah preparation, early childhood programs and more. Outstanding participation will be honored at the 2015 URJ Biennial.

Contact: Rabbi Edythe Held Mencher LCSW: or Joseph D.

Examples of Successful Programs
Articles and Resources
Featured Videos
  1. Rabbi Lynne F. Landsberg talks about Jewish Disability Awareness Month, an opportunity for Jewish communities to break down physical, communicative and attitudinal barriers, educate ourselves on the true meaning of accessibility and inclusion, and reach out to Jews with disabilities.
  2. Learn about the people and stories that make Bet Shalom Congregation in Minnetonka, MN an inclusive, welcoming environment, in the video below.

Disability Awareness Project made possible by the Epstein-Wenger Family Supporting Foundation & Warren and Joyce Heilbronner.

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