Welcoming People With Disabilities

This article was originally published in the Summer 2014 issue of Reform Judaism Magazine.

Members of Temple Sinai, Oakland at the Western Wall. Finding a tour bus with a lift and booking wheelchair  accessible rooms enabled Neil and Denise Jacobson (front, center) to join the congregational trip.

Members of Temple Sinai, Oakland at the Western Wall. Finding a tour bus with a lift and booking wheelchair
accessible rooms enabled Neil and Denise Jacobson (front, center) to join the congregational trip.

Congregants at Temple Beth El in Hillsborough, New Jersey were amazed when Grace Amodeo expertly read Torah at last year’s Yom Kippur services. Many of them showered her with praise. Although pleased to receive the attention, the 16-year-old high school student, who has been blind since birth, didn’t quite understand what the big deal was.

“I thought to myself, ‘I guess I did something right. I hope they ask me to read again next year,’” she says.

The fact that, despite her disability, Amodeo can read Torah as well—or better—than her sighted peers is a testament to Temple Beth El’s longstanding policy of including people with disabilities.

Now, thanks to the Union’s partnership with the Ruderman Family Foundation, many more URJ congregations will focus on ensuring participation of people with disabilities in synagogue life (see “Ruderman Synagogue Inclusion Initiative,” below). Synagogues can also learn from congregational initiatives that have already made Jewish communities more inclusive.

Click here to read more.

© 2014 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

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