As a Jewish professional dedicated to issues of disability inclusion and awareness, I’m all about solutions. When I read this article, I wanted to yell, “This is exactly the type of piece that must be required reading in our seminaries!”
In this, the 26th year of the ADA, I hope the wider Jewish community will vow to raise the consciousness of synagogues everywhere, so when they meet such a child or adult or family, their hearts and arms are already wide.
The modern cantor has a place in all of Jewish communal life. The cantor interacts with everyone in the community, and therefore, the cantor has a great opportunity to affect positive change for people with disabilities within the community.
If our communal life is not available for all who want to participate, we are failing to fulfill a basic mitzvah (commandment) – and we’re also missing out on an essential part of our sacred community.
Within our congregations are individuals who live with disabilities, as well as family members and friends and people who support people with disabilities. As Jewish leaders, we simply cannot ignore a fifth of our community or treat them as marginal members.
We know it’s important – and invaluable – to create a seat in the classroom for every child. But saying is easier than doing. How can we use the rules of improv to make inclusion happen in our congregations?
At the heart of the Reform Movement’s commitment to the concept of “audacious hospitality” is the belief that we will be a stronger, more vibrant community when we fully integrate the diversity that is the reality – and the future – of modern Jewish life. Jewish Disability Advocacy and Inclusion Month give us the opportunity to strengthen our commitment to social change and highlight the need for ongoing awareness.