Learn new strategies for inclusion, apply to become an Exemplar Congregation and receive a certificate of recognition

This is the place to access webinars, videos, and written resources from top professionals, interact with experts, and consult other congregations and Reform Movement staff members on involving people with disabilities and their families.

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Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month (JDAIM) 2017 is here!!!  View this list of resources from JDAIM co-founder Shelly Christensen, to get the most out of the month for you and your community!

“Why Self-Advocacy is Vital to the Pursuit of Disability Rights” by disabilities self-advocate Joseph D. Robbins, tells his personal story, while discussing the importance of having both allies and disabilities self-advocates, in the quest for inclusion.

This excellent list compiled by Jane Herman contains 10 inclusion resources published by the URJ during JDAIM.

This Dvar Torah on Parshat Yitro from Rabbi Ana Bonnheim discusses how everybody at Sinai received the Torah, regardless of ability, and touches on Universal Inclusion, as taught by Matan Koch.

This interesting and informative book review discusses L’Chaim:  Pictures to Evoke Memories of a Jewish Life, the first Jewish cookbook created explicitly for adults with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

“Crying with My Baby:  Opening Up about Post-Partum Depression” is an important, moving piece by Rabbi Sandra Cohen about her struggles with postpartum depression, and the ways in which our communities can do more for new mothers battling postpartum depression, and everybody dealing with mental illness.

Looking ahead to Purim, “5 Lessons from Camp for an Accessible, Inclusive Purim Carnival” by URJ Camp Harlam Inclusion Coordinator Lori Zlotoff, is a fun, and excellent guide for how we can use the camp example to make our congregational Purim Carnivals accessible and fun for all!

Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation, wrote, “We’re Missing the Boat on Jewish Continuity,” issuing the important challenge to all Jewish Communities to transform into beacons of inclusion.

“What the Americans with Disabilities Act Means to Me,” an excellent piece from disabilities self-advocate and URJ employee Alex Gilbert, tells her story and shows the importance of the ADA to her and so many others with disabilities.  Religious Action Center (RAC) Legislative Assistant Nathan Bennett wrote an equally important piece, “Protecting the Americans with Disabilities Act” explaining the legislation aimed at breaking down the rights currently provided by the ADA, and what we can do to fight the legislation.

Allyson Perling, of Mount Zion Temple in Minneapolis, Minnesota wrote, “How My Daughter Persevered on Her Bat Mitzvah Day.”  This piece tells the story of her daughter Netta’s journey to becoming a Bat Mitzvah, and what occurred on the actual Bat Mitzvah Day.

Educator Lisa Friedman, from Temple Beth-El in Hillsborough, New Jersey, wrote, “What People with Disabilities (and Their Families) Wish Their Rabbis Knew” for JDAIM.  The piece is important for clergy, and all members of the congregation.

In honor of JDAIM 2017, Neil Jacobson, of Temple Sinai in Oakland, California, wrote this important piece on Beshalach, the weekly Torah portion for Saturday, February 11th.  The RAC published the piece as a blog post here.

This moving piece from high school student and disabilities self-advocate, Noah Schramm, discusses his time as a CIT at URJ Camp Harlam, and the work he does on a daily basis to help people see his true self.

Jordan Dashow’s informative blog post, “Five Ways to Be an Ally to People with Disabilities,” is a guide for standing side-by-side with people with disabilities, while remembering the important mantra of the disabilities self-advocacy community:  “Nothing about us, without us.”

This great blog post from from Religious Action Center (RAC) Legislative Assistant Nathan Bennett discusses the importance of Jewish Disability Advocacy Day (JDAD) 2017, and advocating alongside people with disabilities.

Apply now to be recognized at Biennial 2017 for Inclusion Work!  Is your congregation successful in one or more areas of inclusion?  Click here to apply to become an Exemplar Congregation.  Exemplar Congregations will be recognized at Biennial 2017 for efforts at inclusion of people with disabilities.  Congregations who are unable to attend Biennial will receive a certificate of recognition for their efforts.

Please enjoy the resources from this past Rosh HaShanah:

1.  May Your New Year be “Sweet as Honey” – video message from the URJ and the Ruderman Family Foundation

2.  “How To Make Your High Holidays- And Daily Life- More Inclusive” blog post from the Ruderman Family Foundation

3.  “We All Want to Be Heard” Dvar Torah on Parshat Ha’Azinu from Rabbi Edythe Mencher

Click here to view The URJ-Ruderman High Holidays Inclusion Learning Series Webinars!

The URJ-Ruderman High Holidays Inclusion Learning Series was a series of four live webinars focused on Disabilities Inclusion during the High Holidays.  The Series featured disabilities experts and advocates, discussing vital topics aimed at preparing our congregations for the High Holidays, and enabling them to build a foundation of inclusion for the New Year.

Missed the Mental Health Learning Series?  Learn more below!

The URJ-Ruderman Mental Health Learning Opportunity was a series of live calls focused on increasing the inclusion of people with Mental Illness in our communities, and decreasing the stigma surrounding Mental Illness.  The series featured experts with a variety of experiences and backgrounds discussing topics critical to educating our communities on Mental Health and Mental Illness.  Please visit our Mental Health section to view the Mental Health Learning Opportunity webinars, along with other great Mental Health study sessions.

Rabbi Edie Mencher wrote “Police Brutality and People with Disabilities:  What Can We Do?” an important blog post about the role the Jewish Community can take in fostering change that leads to the end of all police brutality.  This piece, published after the Ruderman Family Foundation‘s recent release of its first White Paper, was written to provide action steps we as a Community can take to end police brutality.

The Ruderman Family Foundation recently released a White Paper on police-related violence, and media coverage of cases involving a person with a disability.  An introduction to the important study is available here.  The report, “The Ruderman White Paper on Media Coverage of Law Enforcement Use of Force and Disability” is available here in its entirety.  A text-only version of the report is available for download by clicking here.

February was Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month (JDAIM)!

Click here to read all of the wonderful blog posts and articles from the URJ and Disabilities Inclusion Learning Center contributors.

This great list of “10 Tips on Creating and Effective Inclusion Team” is taken from Brookes Publishing‘s The Preschool Inclusion Toolbox.  Download the infographic today to find great tips for creating your congregation’s inclusion team!


Explore A Topic

Adults in Communal Life

2 Study Sessions

Access and engagement of adults with lifelong, temporary or newly developed disabilities

Advocacy & Community Partnerships

4 Study Sessions

Engaging congregants of all ages in advocating for disabilities inclusion as a human rights issue

B'nai Mitzvah

4 Study Sessions

Specific, educationally sound and spiritually sensitive strategies to prepare all kinds of learners to become B’nai Mitzvah


2 Study Sessions

Advancing understanding and creating effective educational, spiritual and social participation for the deaf and hard of hearing

Early Childhood Education

1 Study Sessions

Strategies and tools for nurturing Jewish educational experiences for young children with disabilities while shaping positive attitudes towards disabilities

General Inclusion

8 Study Sessions

Develop additional skills, strategies and understanding to make possible the full participation of all people with disabilities

High Holidays

4 Study Sessions

Strategies, tools and skills to assist your community in becoming more inclusive in the New Year and beyond

Mental Health

6 Study Sessions

Ways of advancing understanding while creating spiritual and social support for those living with mental illness

Religious School

7 Study Sessions

Effective strategies and tools to create successful inclusive Jewish educational experiences for all children and all kinds of learners

Youth Group, High School & College Programming

5 Study Sessions

Strategies for creating inclusive programming for youth group, high school and college students


1 Study Sessions

Creating entry points, access and participation in worship for all members of our communities

Our Contributors

Teachers & Leaders

Howard Blas

Howard Blas

Director, National Ramah Tikvah Network

Director, National Ramah Tikvah Network

Shelly Christensen

Shelly Christensen

CEO, Inclusion Innovations

CEO, Inclusion Innovations

Maria Hartman

Maria Hartman

Instructor & Student Teaching Coordinator, Columbia Teachers College

Instructor & Student Teaching Coordinator, Columbia Teachers College

Rabbi Evan Jaffe

Rabbi, Flemington JCC

Meredith Polsky

Meredith Polsky

Director of Training and Advocacy, Matan

Director of Training and Advocacy, Matan