December 18, 2014 · 26 Kislev

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Best Practices - Examples from Real Congregations

The following congregations are models of best practices in various facets of disability inclusion. They have also generously provided their contact information - please feel free to reach out to them as resources to learn more the "nuts and bolts" of implementing disability inclusion practices in your congregations and communities.

Temple Micah (Washington, D.C.)

- Award winning building, program, attitude
- Temple Micah has an Inclusion and Accessibility Committee whose goal is to make the congregation a welcoming place for people of all levels of ability. For Jewish Disability Awareness Month, they brought in guest speakers to speak during Shabbat services. Inclusivity is also one of the Temple Micah values. Their bimah is completely wheelchair accessible and their building already exceeds the demands required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
- Contact the Inclusion Committee
- Contact Rabbi Daniel Zemel at (202) 342-9175

Temple Isaiah (Lafayette, CA)

- Building, program, attitude
- Temple Isaiah’s building is very accessible to members with disabilities: handicapped parking spots are designated near the front of the building, all sidewalks have curbs, the building and basement/youth lounge have ramps, the library has books, movies, and CDs in various formats, the bimah is wheel chair accessible, tallitot and prayer books are available at wheelchair accessible level, large-print prayer books are available, and aisle between pews are wide. Rabbi Judy Shanks has excellent support programs for adults living with mental illness and their families and is very committed to special needs in general.
- Contact Rabbi Judy Shanks

Congregation Bet Shalom (Minnetonka, MN)

- Building, program, attitude
- When Bet Shalom developed plans for a new building, they included people who had physical disabilities on the building committee. Access to the bimah is the same for all: short curved ramps that ascend on either side of the bimah. The building is also barrier-free. Rabbis Norman M. Cohen and David Locketz model inclusion as a congregational value through sermons, writings, and actions.
- Bet Shalom’s Inclusion Committee partners with other committees to raise awareness, and created a short film of interviews with people with disabilities and congregational leaders to share for Jewish Disability Awareness Month.
- During Religious School one Sunday students participated in a ceremony where mezzuzot were affixed to every doorway so people using wheelchairs could reach them. People with disabilities are lay leaders and board members.
- The Religious School provides individualized plans for children with special needs to ensure that they are learning according to their needs.

Congregation Rodeph Shalom (New York, NY)

- Building, program, attitude
- Congregation Rodeph Shalom has an elevator that provides direct access into their building. They also have large-print prayer books, devices for those with hearing loss, and a sign language interpreter on one Friday a month and at every Shireinu worship service for families with special needs.
- They run an excellent special needs Shabbat, accessible holiday services, and exceptionally evolved multi-sensory programming.
- Contact the Congregation at (646) 454-3124

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