Rabbi Landsberg: “With Ambassador Rice’s signing of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, the United States publicly encourages a worldwide recognition of the inherent value of every human being.”
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WASHINGTON, D.C., July 31, 2009 – UN Ambassador Susan Rice yesterday signed the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, adopted in 2006 and signing by 141 member states. In response to the United States’ signing of the Convention, Rabbi Lynne Landsberg, Senior Adviser on Disability Issues for the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
Today we celebrate vital progress in the movement toward full equality for people with disabilities. With Ambassador Rice’s signing of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, the United States publicly encourages a worldwide recognition of the inherent value of every human being.
Last Sunday marked the 19th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Convention now marks an international effort to bring us closer to fulfilling the promises of the ADA – to achieve the goals of equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency.
We read in Leviticus 19:14, “You shall not insult the deaf, or place a stumbling block before the blind.” This teaching calls for us to be proactive and compels us to remove stumbling blocks that society places, both consciously and unknowingly, in front of people with disabilities. Only by doing this can we ensure that people with disabilities around the world are able to lead fulfilling, participatory lives.
While the law can mandate physical accessibility, it cannot mandate access to the human heart; religious communities around the world have a responsibility to foster both physical and emotional accessibility. Our work must continue in our communities, our places of worship, and, of course, our governments. We call upon the Senate to quickly review and ratify this Convention, ensuring the rights and dignities of people with disabilities in our nation and across the globe.
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 1,800 Reform rabbis.