The Jewish Inclusion Project was developed with the mission of educating and inspiring rabbinical students and Rabbis on the obligation, need and methodology for leading the creation of more inclusive Synagogues, Schools and Summer Camps that fully embrace the communal, social and religious needs of people with disabilities and their families.
It is estimated that 20% of the Jewish population, like that of the US populations as a whole, have some form of physical, developmental or learning disability. Because of attitudes and lack of services, these members of the Jewish people, and frequently their families, are being disenfranchised from a community that could greatly benefit from their inclusion.
There are still many temples and synagogues which are not accessible to those with physical challenges (mobility, visual and hearing) and have no programming that address people with differing developmental needs. Most Jewish Day Schools have limited, if any, provisions for students with different learning needs, and too few inclusive Jewish summer camps exist for children with any significant disabilities. Some in the Jewish Community still seem to focus on the economic costs of inclusion rather than on the communal costs of exclusion. While there are many explanations for this reality, at least one major reason is the unfamiliarity and uneasiness of Rabbis of all denominations regarding issues of the Rabbinic role in including people with disabilities.
Until now progress in the Jewish community for people with disabilities has been made on a grass roots level, by individual families demanding to be part of the Jewish world. To accelerate communal change a top-down approach is required. By creating an intensive educational re-orientation of the religious leadership of the community, a concentrated course at Seminaries and Rabbinical Schools of all Jewish denominations has been developed to educate future religious leaders about the roles they need to play in integrating the communal and personal lives of people with disabilities and their families
The goal is for newly ordained Rabbis and current Rabbis to be able to return to their communities and implement an action plan to improve the inclusivity of people with disabilities.
For more information about The Jewish Inclusion Project, please contact Founder & Program Director Shelley Richman Cohen at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Jewish Inclusion Project is grateful for the generous support of the Ruderman Family Foundation. http://www.rudermanfoundation.org/