Jewish Disability Advocacy Month: Creating an Accessible World for All People

January 20, 2021Juri Jacoby

As Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month approaches, the Religious Action Center is excited to announce Jewish Disability Advocacy Month, hosted virtually in partnership with The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and other partners throughout the Jewish community.

Year after year, the RAC is proud to partner with JFNA to reaffirm our commitment to disability advocacy and the advancement of disability rights. In the past, we’ve hosted Jewish Disability Advocacy Day, a one-day event on Capitol Hill. Given this year’s restrictions on gathering in person, though, the community has shifted gears, offering a full month of virtual events focused on education, networking, solidarity-building, and empowerment in support of people with disabilities.

Advancing the civil rights of people living with disabilities remains core to the Reform Movement’s work of building a world of compassion, justice, and wholeness. Pirkei Avot 2:5 teaches, "Do not separate yourself from the community.” Yet due to persistent systemic barriers to transportation, technology, health care, education, affordable housing, community involvement, and independent living, many people living with a disability are consistently alienated from the community against their will.

Each week of February, JFNA will offer virtual programs in line with a theme: Week one will focus on empowerment, week two on breaking barriers, and week three on creating opportunity. The fourth and final week of the month, we’ll observe Advocacy Week, with four virtual events sponsored by the Religious Action Center:

  • “The 2021 Disability Rights Policy Agenda,” Monday, February 22, at 7 p.m. ET
  • “Effective Advocacy for Inclusive Policy,” Tuesday, February 23, at 3 p.m. ET
  • “JDAM Closing – Making Inclusion a Reality,” Thursday, February 25, at 3 p.m. ET

Join us to learn new advocacy strategies and take action to put the needs and rights of people with disabilities squarely on the policy agenda of the administration and the 117th Congress. Visit jewishtogether.org/jdam to sign up for this year’s virtual events.

And of course, Jewish Disability Advocacy Month occurs against the backdrop of Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month (JDAIM), an annual opportunity for the Jewish community to examine and evaluate our successes and shortcomings in being open and inclusive to members with disabilities. Visit the RAC’s disability rights issue page for additional resources.

Jewish tradition is explicit about the importance of creating a world that is accessible for all people. Leviticus teaches us, “You shall not insult the deaf, or place a stumbling block before the blind” (Lev. 19:14). While February provides a time to reflect and act on our values, programs like the URJ-Ruderman Disabilities Inclusion Learning Center offer resources year-round to help us build more accessible and inclusive communities.

We hope you will join us in the sacred work of ensuring that all members of society are treated with dignity and able to fully participate in all aspects of religious and public life.

Visit jewishtogether.org/jdam to sign up for virtual events throughout the month of February. Additional resources for disability rights advocacy and observing Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month can be found on the RAC’s disability rights issue page.

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