Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi's blog

The Synagogue Inclusion Project: Union Temple

Since March of 2015, six New York area synagogues have been focused on tangibly weaving the inclusion of people with disabilities in the fabric of their communities. The UJA-Federation of New York, with funding from the Leo Oppenheimer & Flora Oppenheimer Haas Foundation, piloted The Synagogue Inclusion Project, a groundbreaking 18-month pilot program to create a replicable, sustainable approach to integrating members of our community with disabilities. The pilot synagogue cohort included synagogues large and small, Conservative and Reform, urban and suburban. What bound them together was a stated desire to be inclusive of people with disabilities, but an underlying doubt that they were having the desired impact.

Students At Union Temple. Courtesy of Shelley Cohen

Gov. Markell: America’s Jewish Governor, Standing Up For Disabilities

While there are multiple Jews in Congress and the Senate, only one Jew serves at the chief executive of their state: Governor Jack Markell of Delaware. He is term-limited, so sadly his tenure in this office will end soon. He is a major hero in public life, so it’s worth your time to look at his expansive contributions.

The author and other RespectAbility board members with Gov. Markell. Courtesy of Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi

Genesis Prize & Perlman: Helping Jews With And Without Disabilities

When the inaugural Genesis Prize, dubbed by Time magazine as “The Jewish Nobel,” was awarded in 2014 to one of the world’s leading philanthropists and public servants, New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, I admit I was very skeptical. I remember scratching my head and thinking, “One set of super rich guys gives another super rich guy $1 million? How’s that going to help anyone?” But, I’ve been proven wrong.

Violinist Itzhak Perlman. JTA

Two School Solutions For Jewish Children With Disabilities

If you are the parent of a Jewish child with disabilities, you have already learned that public schools “magically” welcome, include and teach children with disabilities very well. Indeed, where I live around the nation’s capital in Maryland, there are some of the best public school programs for children with disabilities in the country. Moreover, they are doing it with expert skills for tens of thousands of children at no cost (other than taxes) to families.

New York Voter Guide On Disability Issues

Editor's Note: Thanks to RespectAbilityUSA for sharing this important coverage of the Presidential election with us.

As voters prepare to head to the polls in New York, RespectAbility is releasing its New York Disability Voter Guide. The #PwDsVote 2016 Campaign Questionnaire was designed for people with disabilities (PwDs) and those who love them to know where candidates stand on the issues.

New York Disability Voter Guide. therespectabilityreport.org

At AIPAC Conference, Improved Inclusion Efforts For People With Disabilities

As all organizations know, it is much easier to say you will be inclusive than to actually become inclusive. Real inclusion is intentional, not accidental. It takes real leadership and implementation efforts. Thankfully, during the past two years, AIPAC has made huge strides in this arena.

7 Great FREE Things You Can Do Over Winter Break To Help Jews With Disabilities

1. February is Jewish Disabilities Awareness & Inclusion Month (JDAIM). It’s the time when those of us who care about Jews with disabilities should be going all out to build our inclusion skills and resources, as well as to offer speakers and films for the community. Doing it right, however, takes some planning. So download your free guide to JDAIM today by going here. It’s quick and easy to read the guide and you can do it from a beach or vacation spot anywhere. So put aside the novel for a fifteen minutes, and get your creative juices flowing early so you can make a positive difference in February!

Jewish Disability Awareness & Inclusion Month. Courtesy of Inclusion Innovations

13 Tips To Help Your Child With A Disability Succeed In Religious School

Editor's Note: As the school year begins, we are delighted to bring you these tips. Follow "The New Normal" through the year for a variety of perspectives on inclusion and Jewish education.

As someone with a disability myself, and who also knows what it means to parent a child with multiple disabilities, I’ve become an advocate for my children on so many fronts. Jewish education and involvement is no different. When it comes to disability and inclusion issues, despite good intentions, many Jewish institutions don’t even know what they don’t know. So it is up to people with disabilities, and the people who love them, to educate and advocate for people with disabilities in Jewish life. This is especially true in the context of enabling children with disabilities to have full access to Jewish education.

Jennifer Laszlo Mizraho

25th Anniversary Of The Americans With Disabilities Act, Jews & Disability Rights

It’s the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Jews played a major role in this landmark civil rights legislation for people with disabilities. However, their story remains largely untold. All of these Jews have been and continue to be heroes to the civil rights of people with disabilities in our nation. While they don’t have the title of “Rabbi,” each of them is a model of Jewish values in action. A new book, Enabling Acts, details the complete ADA history, which includes people from a variety of backgrounds.

Bobby and Lynne Silverman were honored at the White House. Courtesy of Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi

Jewish Seniors Helped; Youth With Disabilities Get Jobs

Haley McCormick-Thompson, a young adult with a developmental disability, spends part of her day transporting senior residents of United Hebrew from their rooms to their various activities throughout the day. One of the more lighthearted activities is the sing-along, where she stands at the front of a crowded room leading a group of senior residents, helping them follow along with song sheets.

“I really care about the residents,” Haley said. “I like helping them if they’re sad and I like staying late and helping. I am always willing to do extra.”

Haley is modest. Staff say she is a rock star with the residents.

Haley McCormick-Thompson helps a resident. Courtesy of Rick Guidotti
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