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

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 (S. 651/H.R. 1814) to make the ABLE program available to people who become disabled prior to age 46 and ensure the ABLE program’s long-term viability.

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 URJ and CCAR.

View URJ Resolutions

Additional Reform Judaism Resolutions 

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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.

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What Our Partners Are Doing

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.