Disability Rights

Description

In the U.S. and Canada more than 60 million people have some form of disability. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, one in 12 children in the U.S. has a disability; that means 5.2 million American children have a mental or physical disability. With the passage momentous civil rights legislation, the U.S. and Canada have made significant progress in recent decades, but in both countries people with disabilities still lag behind national averages in education completed, employment rates, income, technology access, homeownership, and voter participation. As Americans, Canadians, and members of the Jewish community we must continue our support for disability rights by educating our communities, ensuring accessibility in our synagogues and services, supporting disability rights legislation, and demanding enforcement of existing laws.

 

Why Should Jews Care

 

  • Jewish tradition teaches us of our obligation to ensure equal access for all people and to help facilitate the full participation of individuals with disabilities in religious and public life.  In Leviticus 19:14 we are commanded, "You shall not insult the deaf, or place a stumbling block before the blind." Stumbling blocks come in many forms, unequal access or subpar educational and employment opportunities, lack of accessible housing and transportation, and discrimination and exclusion in both Jewish and secular spaces. 
  • Further, in Pirkei Avot 2:5 we are taught "Do not separate yourself from the community.” However, due to persistent systemic barriers to education, transportation, technology, health care, community involvement, and independent living, many people living with disabilities are consistently alienated from the community against their will. These teachings remind us that there is still much work to be done to reach full inclusion for all people in our society.
  • Other Jewish texts on disability issues include: "For my house shall be a house of prayer for all people." (Isaiah 56:5)
  • "But Moses said to the Lord, 'Please, O Lord, I have never been a man of words, either in times past or now that You have spoken to Your servant; I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.'  And the Lord said to him, 'Who gives man speech?  Who makes him dumb or deaf, seeing or blind?  Is it not I, the Lord?'"(Exodus 4:10-11)

Take Action

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Tell Congress: Allow six million more people with disabilities to save for the future

Passed in 2014, the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act allowed people with disabilities up to age 26 and their families to establish tax-advantaged savings and investment plans called ABLE Accounts. Although the ABLE Act continues to provide an important measure of financial security to people with disabilities, anyone who acquires a disability after they turn 26 is ineligible to create an ABLE account. Urge your members of Congress to cosponsor the ABLE Age Adjustment Act to help millions of additional people with disabilities save for the future.

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Join Us for Jewish Disability Advocacy Month

Learn new advocacy strategies and take action to put the needs and rights of people with disabilities squarely on the policy agenda of the presidential administration and the 117th Congress. Part of Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month, these virtual events are hosted in partnership with Jewish Federations of North America and other community partners.

Reform Judaism Resolutions on Disability Rights

Learn more about the position of the Reform Movement on these key issues, and read the formal resolutions by the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis.

View URJ Resolutions

View CCAR Resolutions

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Inclusion Resources

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Hineinu: Here We Are

More can and must be done to build a more inclusive Jewish community. Created with our partner organizations, Hineinu is a guide to breaking down barriers and creating inclusive communities.

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5 Ways to Be an Ally to People with Disabilities

As we highlight disability inclusion and work toward disability inclusion in our Jewish communities all year long, here are just a few ways to be an individual ally to people with disabilities.

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audacious hospitality Resources

URJ Audacious Hospitality Resources

Find resources, including our congregational toolkit, created by the URJ Audacious Hospitality team to help you make your community more equitable and inclusive.

Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month

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What is Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month?

Established in 2009, JDAIM is a unified initiative to raise disability awareness and support efforts to foster inclusion in Jewish communities worldwide.

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18 Ways Congregations Can Observe Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month

JDAIM’s founder explains why our congregations and communities should participate in Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month and suggestions for doing so.

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Download the Latest Inclusion Guide

Shelly Christensen of Inclusion Innovations, founder of Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month, shares an annual JDAIM recent inclusion guide and other materials.

What's New

Related Press Releases

Jewish Disability Advocates Convene on Capitol Hill for Day of Action

On Tuesday, February 4, more than 275 people living with disabilities and their allies will arrive on Capitol Hill for the 10th annual Jewish Disability Advocacy Day (JDAD). Participants from Jewish Federations, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and other Jewish organizations across the United States will urge Congress to support two pieces of legislation: the ABLE Age Adjustment Act and the Margie Harris-Austin Act.

Disability Inclusion and Jewish Values

Jewish Values and Disability Rights

Jewish tradition teaches us of our obligation to ensure equal access for all people and to help facilitate the full participation of individuals with disabilities in religious and public life.
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What Does the Torah Say about People with Disabilities?

We are taught “Do not separate yourself from the community” (Pirke Avot 2:5); accordingly, we must prevent anyone from being separated from the community against their will.

Engage Your Congregation

  • Jewish Disability Advocacy Day: During this one-day event in Washington, D.C., hundreds of Jews with disabilities and their allies gather to learn about current disability rights policy, raise awareness on disability inclusion, and advocate for relevant legislative priorities on Capitol Hill.
  • Audacious Hospitality: The Union for Reform Judaism's Audacious Hospitality initiative provides toolkits, educational resources, and more to help you make your spaces more inclusive.
  • Hineinu: A Jewish Guide to Inclusion: The Hineinu guide is an innovative collaboration of disability professionals, activists, and policy experts from the Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist and Reform Jewish Movements designed to increase disability inclusion in our synagogues for people of all abilities.
  • Jewish Disability Advocacy, Awareness, and Inclusion Month (JDAIM)Every February, North American communities from every major Jewish stream recognize Jewish Disability Advocacy, Awareness, and Inclusion Month, a unified initiative to raise disability awareness and support efforts to foster inclusion in Jewish communities worldwide.
  • Disabilities Inclusion Learning Center: Visit our online learning center, developed by the URJ in partnership with the Ruderman Family Foundation, the site features engaging and impactful skill building study sessions, videos and other resources provided by leading disabilities inclusion experts on creating accessible learning, vocational, social, worship and communal experiences for people of all ages.

Our Partners

Jewish Federations of North America

The RAC is proud to partner with the Jewish Federations of North America on disability rights policy and organize Jewish Disability Advocacy Day.

Interfaith Disability Advocacy Collaborative (IDAC)

The RAC is proud to be on the Steering Committee of the Interfaith Disability Advocacy Collaborative, a group of more than two dozen faith-based organizations working to advance disability rights and inclusion.