We Can Move From Affiliated to Included in Jewish Organizations

Jews with disabilities are often separated from the community; Removing the Stumbling Block

We are fortunate when we can look to mentors who guide us, encourage us and support us in our work. For me, one such person is Rabbi Lynne Landsberg. I would encourage you to read her story.  She is an amazing role model, teacher and colleague, and I am lucky to call her a friend. 

I wrote a reaction to the Pew Study where I wondered if anyone even considered Jews with disabilities. Lynne wrote her own deeply insightful reflection:

"The researchers at Pew asked important questions about Jewish self-identification and affiliation, as well as questions about child-rearing, attachment to Israel and remembering the Holocaust. As a person with disabilities, I would have loved to have seen the folks at Pew delve more deeply. I would have loved to see them ask questions like:
  • Can you even get into your synagogue building?
  • Are you able to read the synagogue’s prayer book? Is it available in large print? Do they have one in Braille?
  • Are you able to understand the teachings or the sermon through an interpreter or CART? Do they have an assisted listening device?
  • Does the synagogue’s religious school offer special-ed accommodations?
  • Can your family member access the facilities inside the synagogue’s building?
Our sages teach, “Do not separate yourself from the community.” However, Jews with disabilities are too often separated from the community through no fault of their own.  If synagogue leadership could answer “yes” to the above questions, we could expand our reach in deep and important ways.  There are Jews out there who are “religious” and want to belong."

You can find the rest of Rabbi Landsberg's article on the Ruderman Family Foundation's blog Zeh Lezeh (For One Another).

It's time for us to do more than read Lynne's article and nod along.  It is time to read those questions as a charge. We must do the hard work to be able to answer "yes" to all of them. 

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