Jewish Organizations' Letter to 118th Congress for Jewish Disability Advocacy Day 2023

February 15, 2022, WASHINGTON- In celebration of Jewish Disability Advocacy Day 2023, the Union for Reform Judaism, Jewish Federations of North America, Network of Jewish Human Services Agencies, and 132 additional national, state, and local Jewish organization sent the following letter to the 118th Congress:

Dear Members of the 118th Congress,

On behalf of the 135 undersigned Jewish national, state, and local organizations, we thank you for the significant bipartisan progress made in the 117th Congress to support independence for people with disabilities. As the 118th Congress commences, we urge you to continue to prioritize policies that promote inclusion and accessibility and empower people with disabilities to lead lives of greater independence and economic stability.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 61 million adults in the United States -- one in four -- have a disability. Every February, the Jewish community comes together for Jewish Disability Advocacy Day (JDAD) to raise awareness and foster acceptance and inclusion of people with disabilities and mental health conditions – and to advocate for policies that promote independence and inclusion. Jewish text commands us, "You shall not insult the deaf, or place a stumbling block before the blind” (Leviticus 19:14) and “Do not separate yourself from the community” (Pirkei Avot 2:5). Stumbling blocks come in many forms: unequal access or subpar educational and employment opportunities, lack of accessible housing and transportation, inability to access health care, reduced opportunities for community involvement and independent living, discrimination, and stigma. These teachings remind us that there is still much work to be done to reach full inclusion for all people in our society.

We are grateful for the passage of prior JDAD priorities during the 117th Congress, including the ABLE Age Adjustment Act, extending the Medicaid Money Follows the Person program, and increasing funding for the Social Security Administration to improve timely processing of disability benefit claims. We now urge you to continue this progress by prioritizing:

Promoting Opportunities for Economic Independence

People with disabilities are more than twice as likely to live in poverty as those without disabilities due to educational and employment opportunities that significantly limit their earning potential, while outdated safety net policies trap many people with disabilities in poverty. Further, People of Color, particularly African Americans, are more likely to have a disability and the difficulties they experience in living with a disability are compounded by higher rates of economic insecurity due to disparities in economic opportunity. We urge you to promote bipartisan opportunities for economic independence like updating Supplemental Security Income (SSI) asset limits and allowing beneficiaries to retain more in savings for emergencies without jeopardizing their benefits.

Increasing Opportunities to Live Independently in the Community

To increase opportunities for individuals with disabilities to live in the community, rather than in costly institutions, we urge you to expand upon existing programs that promote the ability of people with disabilities to live more independently with appropriate support, including investing in additional resources and training for direct care workers.

Protecting and Advancing Accessibility and Inclusion

In the 30 years since enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the landmark civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life has proven to be a vital tool in removing barriers and improving access to employment, school, transportation, community spaces, and more, but there is much left to be done. We look to our elected officials to protect the ADA and enact further legislation that will break down the remaining barriers to promote full, equitable access.

Removing Educational Barriers for Children with Disabilities

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) established that all children with disabilities have a federally protected right to a free, appropriate public education tailored to their individual needs in the least restrictive environment possible. Even as schools are required to fulfill the IDEA mandate, special education programs remain severely underfunded. We urge Congress to fulfill its original promise to children with disabilities and fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Inspired by our tradition, we join across the Jewish community on JDAD to ask that the 118th Congress commit to passing bipartisan legislation that addresses the needs of people with disabilities, empowering them to achieve greater economic security and independence. Thank you for your consideration.


Union for Reform Judaism
Jewish Federations of North America
Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies

ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal
Anti-Defamation League
Bend the Arc: Jewish Action
Central Conference of American Rabbis
Early Childhood Educators of Reform Judaism
Hillel International
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Jewish Family Service-San Diego, CA
Jewish Labor Committee
Jewish Veg
Jewish Women International
Jewish Youth Climate Movement
jGirls+ Magazine
MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger
Men of Reform Judaism
National Council of Jewish Women
Rabbinical Assembly
Reconstructing Judaism
Society for Humanistic Judaism
T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
The Workers Circle
Women of Reform Judaism

State and Local
Baltimore Jewish Council
Buffalo Jewish Federation
Buffalo Jewish Community Relations Council
Cincinnati Jewish Community Relations Council
CJE SeniorLife
Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir ~ Heart of the City
Congregation Shir Shalom- Buffalo, NY
Congregation Shir Shalom- Williamsville, NY
Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies
Gesher Human Services
Greater Miami Jewish Federation
Hebrew Educational Society
Hillel at the University of Wisconsin
Hillel of Buffalo
JCRC for Tucson & Southern Arizona
Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island
Jewish Community Action
Jewish Community Center of Greater Buffalo
Jewish Community Federation of Richmond
Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington
Jewish Community Relations Council of Jewish Silicon Valley
Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Omaha
Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Rochester, NY
Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of San Antonio
Jewish Family & Children's Service of Greater Boston
Jewish Family & Children's Service of Greater Philadelphia
Jewish Family and Career Services of Atlanta
Jewish Family and Children's Service of Minneapolis
Jewish Family and Children's Service of Minneapolis
Jewish Family and Children's Services of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties
Jewish Family Service of Atlantic & Cape May Counties
Jewish Family Service of Greater Dallas
Jewish Family Service of Greater New Orleans
Jewish Family Service- Denver, CO
Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles
Jewish Family Service of Orange County, NY
Jewish Family Service of San Diego
Jewish Family Service of the Lehigh Valley
Jewish Family Service St. Paul
Jewish Family Services- Greensboro, NC
Jewish Family Services of Greater Charlotte
Jewish Family Services of Rochester
Jewish Family Services- Milwaukee, WI
Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey
Jewish Federation of Chicago
Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor
Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg
Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis
Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ
Jewish Federation of Greater Nashville
Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans
Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia
Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh
Jewish Federation of Greater Portland
Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester, NY
Jewish Federation of Greater Rockford
Jewish Federation of Greater Toledo
Jewish Federation of Louisville
Jewish Federation of Madison
Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey
Jewish Federation of Ocean County
Jewish Federation of Omaha
Jewish Federation of San Antonio and its Jewish Community Relations Council
Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County
Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey
Jewish Federation of Springfield, IL
Jewish Federation of the Berkshires
Jewish Federation of the Bluegrass
Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley
Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts
Jewish Philanthropies of Southern Arizona
Jewish Social Service Agency of Greater Washington
Jewish Vocational Service of Metrowest NJ
Joan and Stanford Alexander Jewish Family Service, Houston
National Council of Jewish Women - San Antonio
National Council of Jewish Women Greater Houston
National Council of Jewish Women St. Louis
National Council of Jewish Women WA State
National Council of Jewish Women, Austin
National Council of Jewish Women, Louisville Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Nashville Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Sacramento
National Council of Jewish Women, West Morris Section
National Council of Jewish Women/Cleveland
National Council of Jewish Women -Peninsula Section
NCJW Chicago North Shore
NCJW South Cook Section (Illinois)
North Louisiana Jewish Federation
Or Hadash, A Reconstructionist Congregation
Shalom Austin
St. Paul Jewish Federation
Temple Beth Zion
Temple Beth-El, South Bend, Indiana
Temple Emanu-EL Sisterhood Birmingham, AL
Temple Sinai- Middletown, NY
The Birmingham Jewish Federation
The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington
The Reconstructionist Synagogue of the North Shore
The Tampa JCCs and Federation
The Youngstown Area Jewish Federation
UJA-Federation of NY
Wisconsin Jewish Conference
Women of Temple Chai