Inclusion and Disabilities

Inclusion and Disabilities (2014)

This resolution was prepared in consultation with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (of which Women’s League is a member) and the Rabbinical Assembly.

BACKGROUND

The Torah states that we are each created b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). We learn from this that there is holiness in all people, regardless of their physical, sensory, emotional or intellectual abilities. Everyone is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect. We learn about hachnassat orchim, welcoming of strangers, from the hospitality of Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 18). The Torah also teaches us, “Do not curse a person who is deaf and do not place a stumbling block before the blind” (Leviticus 19:14). We are also reminded of the importance of education in creating an inclusive community. We learn from Proverbs 22:6 “to educate every child according to his way.

The Conservative movement has done an important job in ridding our practice of Judaism of the biases against people with disabilities by having programs like the Ramah Tikvah program, the USCJ sponsorship of the Birthright bus for young adults with autism, and by teshuvot of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards (CJLS) of the Rabbinical Assembly (The Participation of Jews who are Blind in the Torah Service (Rabbi Daniel Nevins, 2003) and Status of the Heresh and Sign Language (Rabbi Pamela Barmash, 2011)). Further, the Masorti movement in Israel supports the Bar and Bat Mitzvah Program for Children with Disabilities.
The work of creating inclusive communities and an open society is not only a matter of resources but also how we think about people who have disabilities – and the potential for positive impact on the lives of people with disabilities is significant.

Whereas the Conservative movement has made much progress in the area of inclusion, there is much more that needs to be done to ensure that our buildings, facilities, and programs are accessible to all people with apparent and non-apparent disabilities and

Now, Therefore be it resolved that the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism calls upon all its sisterhoods to help create and sustain welcoming communities of meaningful inclusion, encouraging and enabling people with disabilities and their families to participate fully in Jewish life that promotes a sense of personal belonging and

Be it further resolved that Women’s League calls on sisterhoods to partner with others inside and outside their congregations to share resources and best practices, conduct disability education, awareness-raising campaigns, and training to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities and

Be it further resolved that Women’s League calls upon sisterhoods to support financially and in non-financial ways programs of inclusion within their synagogues and

Be it further resolved that Women’s League encourages sisterhoods to adopt Person First Language (e.g. child with autism rather than an autistic child) in all written communication and publications and

Be it further resolved that members of Women’s League should call upon their governments, at all levels, to fund federal programs which support people with disabilities.