Ruderman Inclusion Summit: "Including Humans In Human Activity"

More than 550 activists in the field of inclusion for people with disabilities from around the world came together for the Ruderman Family Foundation’s first-ever international Inclusion Summit, which took place in Boston on November 1st and 2nd.

Award-winning journalist John Hockenberry. Courtesy of Noam Galai

UJA-Federation Sharefest Focuses On Inclusion Of People With Disabilities

On Monday, October 19, 2015, UJA-Federation of New York hosted a day of learning for synagogue professionals and lay leaders to discuss, share and learn from experts and each other on how to make synagogues more open and welcoming to people with disabilities. The workshop was an opportunity to build skills and to learn about new innovative models to make synagogues more accessible and inclusive to all. The program included presentations from professionals from RespectAbility USA, The Jewish Inclusion Project, the URJ and Ramapo for Children, learning from a compelling self-advocate working in a synagogue community, as well as time for round-table discussions and brainstorming sessions with synagogue professionals leaders and topic experts.

Ahead Of Its Time: One Synagogue's Approach To Inclusion

Editor's Note: In the blog below, Rabbi Daniel Grossman describes the way that his congregation made accessible choices 25 years ago. Many people are surprised to learn that religious institutions are not required to be ADA compliant.

As I think back 25 years ago to the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act, I want to share with you how the passage of the ADA changed my experience of synagogue life. I had just finished my first year at Adath Israel in Trenton, New Jersey when the ADA became a reality. I had worked since Rabbinical School with issues of the deaf, mobility, accessibility and inclusion and now felt able to take serious steps at the synagogue. 

The Congregation had agreed from the beginning of my employment that our new building in Lawrenceville, New Jersey would be totally different from the original building built in 1923.

The Adath Israel synagogue in Mercer County, N.J. has made accessibility a key priority. Via

Nitzavim-Vayelech: I Also Have A Dream

August 28, 2013 marked the 50th anniversary of the march on Washington, a landmark event in the struggle for civil rights for blacks and economic opportunity for disadvantaged Americans. At the conclusion of the event, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. rallied the participants with a speech that has come to be known as "I Have a Dream." He longed for the day when all Americans could proclaim "free at last."

Rabbi Michael Levy

Message From An Accessible Mikveh: The Onus Is On The Community

Larry had a problem. 

It was the winter of 2004 and he’d dreamed of becoming a Jew for years.  Following many months of formal study he was ready to go before the beit din, the group of rabbis who would hear his journey and proclaim him ready for the final conversion ritual. He did meet with these rabbis; they were touched by his sincerity and dedication to the Jewish people.

Larry’s problem was that he was paralyzed from the waist down.

The aquatic lift that makes Mayyim Hayyim accessible to people with mobility impairments. Photo courtesy Mayyim Hayyim

An Aliyah For All! Or, A Ramp Is Not Enough: Toward An Accessible Bima

Editor's Note: With this essay, New Normal contributor Paula Fox made us realize that a ramp to the bima is a wonderful thing, but not enough. The bima itself can and should be made more accessible: to people with disabilities, to children, to the short, to the tall. With the publication of Paula's post, we are launching the New Normal's Bima Project, which will aim to work with a synagogue to create and install such a bima. We look forward to sharing the Project's progress with you and of course invite your questions, suggestions and thoughts.

Until recently, I never thought of myself as a Torah reader.

Paula Fox
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