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Disability Rights are Human Rights: Register for Jewish Disability Advocacy Day 2019

Disability Rights are Human Rights: Register for Jewish Disability Advocacy Day 2019

Four teens pose in front of a RAC banner holding a sign that says "I'm a Reform Jew and I support Disability Rights"

The Religious Action Center is thrilled to announce that registration for the 9th annual Jewish Disability Advocacy Day (JDAD) is officially live. JDAD, hosted in partnership with The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), is a one-day event where Jews with disabilities and their allies from organizations and communities across the nation convene on Capitol Hill to learn about relevant disability policy, raise awareness on disability inclusion, and advocate on current legislative priorities with their elected officials. This year, JDAD will take place on February 26, 2019.

Advancing the civil rights of people living with disabilities remains core to the Reform Movement’s work of building a world of compassion, justice, and wholeness. In Pirkei Avot 2:5 we are taught "Do not separate yourself from the community.” Yet due to persistent systemic barriers to transportation, technology, health care, education, affordable housing, community involvement, and independent living, many people living with a disability are consistently alienated from the community against their will.

Many fundamental issues that we care about are at stake this year, including attacks on the Americans with Disabilities Act that would make the ADA the only civil rights bill with a prescribed waiting period for people to challenge discrimination. It is unacceptable that, in 2018, disparities in employment rate, income, homeownership, education completed, and voter participation still exist for those living with disabilities. This is why, year after year, the RAC is proud to partner with JFNA to reaffirm our commitment to disability advocacy and the advancement of disability rights through this unique and powerful day.

JDAD occurs against the backdrop of Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month (JDAIM). Every February, the North American Jewish community recognizes JDAIM as an opportunity to examine our community and evaluate our successes and shortcomings in being open and inclusive to members with disabilities.

While February is an excellent time to reflect and act on our values, programs like the URJ-Ruderman Disabilities Inclusion Learning Center provide resources year-round so we can form audaciously hospitable communities that are accessible and inclusive for all. Our advocacy for disability rights would not be possible if not for the generosity of our partners at the Ruderman Family Foundation.

We hope you will join us on February 26 for this critical event. Register early for a special $72 rate. After November 16th, the rate will increase to $100. More information and a link to register can be found on the JDAD website.

Jewish tradition is explicit about the importance of creating a world that is accessible for all people. Leviticus teaches us, “You shall not insult the deaf, or place a stumbling block before the blind” (Leviticus 19:14). Join us in this sacred work to ensure that all members of society are treated with dignity and able to fully participate in all aspects of religious and public life.

Ally Karpel is a 2018-2019 Eisendrath Legislative Assistant at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. She is a recent graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, where she studied Speech-Language Pathology and Social Work and received an interdisciplinary certificate in Intervention and Vulnerable Children. Ally was deeply engaged in social justice work during her time in college, which included co-founding and facilitating the Bella Abzug Social Justice Fellowship, serving as president of the University Interfaith Council, and participating in the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Founders’ Fellowship. Outside of the university setting, she has enjoyed interning for NARAL Pro-Choice Texas and Migration Hub Network in Berlin. A proud member of Temple Emanu-El Dallas and an alumna of URJ Greene Family Camp, Ally is beyond thrilled to call DC her new home. Her portfolio includes reproductive rights, disability rights, gender-based violence, pay equity, economic justice, labor issues, and Women of Reform Judaism. Ally will also be working with RAC-IL.

Ally Karpel