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Reform Jewish Movement Taps Rabbi Lynne Landsberg as Disability Issues Liaison
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism today announced that Rabbi Lynne F. Landsberg will be joining the RAC staff as the organization’s Senior Advisor on Disability Issues. In this capacity, Rabbi Landsberg will work within the RAC and with other Jewish organizations to increase the Jewish community’s involvement in the ongoing struggle for civil rights protections for people with disabilities.

Landsberg:  Before my injury, I belonged to one minority that was cohesive, strong and articulate—the American Jewish community.  Now I belong to a second minority that is often unseen and unheard—persons with disabilities. I am excited to be working to strengthen the role of the Jewish community in the fight for the rights of people with disabilities and to help the Jewish community to be more physically and emotionally accessible to people with disabilities.

Contact: Alexis Rice 202.387.2800

Washington, July 8, 2005 – The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism today announced that Rabbi Lynne F. Landsberg will be joining the RAC staff as the organization’s Senior Advisor on Disability Issues.  In this capacity, Rabbi Landsberg will work within the RAC and with other Jewish organizations to increase the Jewish community’s involvement in the ongoing struggle for civil rights protections for people with disabilities.  She will also represent the Union for Reform Judaism’s Department of Family Concerns to increase awareness of and access for people with disabilities and to combat discrimination against people with disabilities. 

“We’re excited that Rabbi Landsberg has agreed to take the lead on this important project,” said Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center.  “Lynne’s leadership, passion, and determination will ensure that the Jewish community and the broader American community give disability rights the attention it deserves.”

Rabbi Landsberg's new role at the Religious Action Center will allow the Reform Jewish Movement to build on its history of advocacy on disabilities issues.  Jewish tradition teaches that we are forbidden to  “insult the deaf, or place a stumbling block before the blind," (Leviticus 19:14). Acting on this Biblical principle, the Reform Jewish Movement has worked to make its synagogues and office buildings accessible to all.  The Reform Jewish Movement has also worked in coalition with civil rights and disability rights advocates to ensure that all Americans have equal access to civic life and public accommodations.

Rabbi Landsberg is a former Associate Director of the Religious Action Center and a former Union for Reform Judaism Regional Director.   She is a graduate of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion’s Rabbinical School program and received her Masters of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School.  Rabbi Landsberg currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Central Conference of American Rabbis.  In 1999, Rabbi Landsberg was in a devastating car crash.  As a result, she lives with a traumatic brain injury. 

“Before my injury,” said Landsberg, “I belonged to one minority that was cohesive, strong and articulate—the American Jewish community.  Now I belong to a second minority that is often unseen and unheard—persons with disabilities. I am excited to be working to strengthen the role of the Jewish community in the fight for the rights of people with disabilities, but I see my role as going beyond political advocacy.  The ADA guaranteed accessibility to public places.  But nothing demands accessibility to the human heart.  In addition to working on legislation, I want to help the Jewish community and others do more than fight against discrimination.  I want to work hard to help them emotionally understand that people with disabilities are people first, and disabled, second.  I want to change the way the able-bodied perceive disability.”

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis.



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