Resolution in Support of Access to Lifelong Jewish Learning for Jews with Disabilities

Posted on: Thursday April 24, 2014

Whereas a human being mints many coins from the same mold and they are all identical, but the Holy Blessed One strikes us all from the mold of the first human and each one of us is unique (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5) and

Whereas the Torah states that each of us is created b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and describes the hospitality of Abraham and Sarah welcoming strangers to their home (Genesis 18) but there are Jews with physical, developmental, emotional, intellectual and other disabilities who do not have the opportunities to participate in the richness of Jewish life in Conservative Movement institutions because multiple barriers still exist in attitudes and access and

Whereas as the Torah teaches us, “You shall not insult the deaf or place a stumbling block before the blind” (Leviticus 19:14) and when those barriers are eliminated many Jews with disabilities find warmth, welcome and a sense of belonging in their Conservative Jewish community and

Whereas historically people with disabilities have been regarded in light of visible impairments such as physical, communication and sensory disorders, the Rabbinical Assembly recognizes that people can have disabilities that are not visible including, but not limited to, autism spectrum disorders, learning disabilities, executive functioning disorders and mood disorders and

Whereas regardless of whether a disability is apparent or not apparent, the Rabbinical Assembly understands that because each person is unique, accommodations must meet their needs so that each can participate in personally meaningful activities and

Whereas the Rabbinical Assembly, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and Camp Ramah have worked for decades to bring people with disabilities into Jewish life such as through the work of the USCJ Special Needs Commission, the Ramah Tikvah program and

Whereas despite all these efforts, more can and must be done to build a more inclusive Conservative Movement; we must ensure that our buildings, facilities and programs are accessible to all people with apparent and not apparent disabilities; our demeanor is welcoming and our language is appropriate including using “person first language” that puts the person before the disability (i.e., referring to a “person with a disability” rather than a “disabled person”) and all Jews, regardless of ability, will have the opportunity for meaningful participation in the richness of Judaism.

Therefore be it resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly affirms that access to a Jewish education, worship at the congregation of one’s choosing, participation in USY, summers spent at Camp Ramah, attendance at a Solomon Schechter Day School, making Jewish friends and becoming leaders of the Conservative Movement should not be limited by a disability and

Be it further resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly commits to creating and sustaining welcoming communities of meaningful inclusion, enabling and encouraging people with disabilities and their families to participate fully in Jewish life in a way that promotes a sense of personal belonging and

Be it further resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly asks its rabbis to find ways to partner with other organizations pursuing this work in order to share resources and best practices and

Be it further resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly calls upon congregations to implement these programs to the best of their financial ability and supports increased allocation for the funding of these initiatives and

Be it further resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly encourages its rabbis and affiliates to adopt Person First Language (e.g. child with autism rather than autistic child) in all oral and written communication and publications and

Be it further resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly calls upon its rabbis to embrace the vision of a Conservative Movement that spiritually, physically and socially welcomes, includes, accommodates and supports all children and adults living with disabilities and their families by providing lifelong learning in all aspects of Jewish communal life.