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Reform Jewish Movement Marks 15th Anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act
In joint statement issued today, Mark Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and Rabbi Lynne Landsberg, Senior Volunteer Advisor on Disability Issues, mark the 15th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and call for renewed vigilance in our work to ensure accessibility for all Americans.

Pelavin and Landsberg:  Joining together, all people of faith and goodwill can endeavor to open hearts, provide emotional support and extend friendship to those in our community with disabilities.  Only through such efforts can our society be one in which the inherent dignity of every individual is valued.  This is our challenge.  May the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act mark our rededication to this task.

Contact: Alexis Rice and Erin Scharff 202.387.2800

WASHINGTON, July 26, 2005 – In joint statement issued today, Mark Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and Rabbi Lynne Landsberg, Senior Volunteer Advisor on Disability Issues, mark the 15th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and call for renewed vigilance in our work to ensure accessibility for all Americans.  Pelavin and Landsberg’s statement follows:

    Fifteen years ago today, President George H. W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law.  The ADA has improved countless lives, providing increased access to public accommodations, including schools, government buildings, voting booths, and public transportation.   As we commemorate the 15th anniversary of this landmark civil rights legislation, we can be proud of the progress our country has made.   

    As far as we have come, we cannot rest on past victories.  In too many instances of everyday life, men, women and young people with disabilities still find themselves excluded from aspects of civic life so many of us take for granted.   Essential programs and legislation, such as Social Security and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which help people with disabilities live full, meaningful and productive lives must be supported and expanded.    Our federal courts and those who sit on them must be vigilant in upholding the rights guaranteed by the ADA.  

    Jewish tradition teaches not to place a stumbling block before the blind.  There can be no clearer message to us as Reform Jews in America that we have an obligation to ensure equal access for all.

    But the law can only go so far.  Joining together, all people of faith and goodwill can endeavor to open hearts, provide emotional support and extend friendship to those in our community with disabilities.  Only through such efforts can our society be one in which the inherent dignity of every individual is valued.  This is our challenge.  May the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act mark our rededication to this task.   

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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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