Areas of Inclusion: Advocacy & Community Partnerships, Architectural & Physical Accommodations and Transportation, Autism, B’nai Mitzvah, Blindness, Early Childhood Education, General Inclusion, Religious School, and Worship
About the Congregation
2100 Westmoreland Street
Falls Church, VA 22043
Number of Congregants: 5,000
Andy Baldwin, Religious School Student Support Coordinator
We are a thriving Reform Jewish congregation nestled in the suburbs of Washington, DC. Since our founding in 1962, we have grown to the largest Jewish congregation in Virginia, serving over 1500 households from McLean, Arlington, Falls Church, Vienna and other nearby Northern Virginia areas.
Together we strive to build a sacred community, Kehilla Kedosha, unified by common goals and ideals, where all members are embraced, Jewish traditions are honored and our spiritual link to Israel is fostered.
Our inclusion committee works to ensure that TRS continues to evolve as a community that is welcoming, inclusive and accessible to everyone by accommodating the needs of all members and guests, regardless of ability or need.
TRS is a diverse community that offers a broad range of spiritual, educational, and social programs that engage members of every age and background. We have something for everyone!
Does this congregation have an inclusion committee?
Developing Our Program
A year of discussions with educators, clergy and parents culminated in the formation of the Inclusion Committee. The first official meeting was July, 2014. Monthly meetings have taken place throughout the year and will continue. For the five years prior to the formation of the committee there was a student support position in the religious school, but not an attempt at congregational awareness.
Number of people involved in the effort: 200
Involving People with Disabilities
A member of the Inclusion Committee is blind, and another is a person with Tourette’s and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Others are parents of children with disabilities, have adults with disabilities in the family, or are professionals in the field.
Funding This Effort
No additional funding was utilized, but there was funding for activities.
Approximately 80 students in Religious School identified through the registration process as having special needs. We have had two Inclusion Dinner/Shabbat Services with approximately 50 attendees.
We have hosted two screenings as part of the JCCNV ReelAbilities Film festival with 60 – 70 attendees.
Spreading Awareness About Our Work
Through the temple website, bulletin and emails to families.
Process & Sharing
History, Materials & Processes that Guided Our Approach
The web site is lacking in this area. Registration for individual events asks if any accommodations are needed. We are planning a congregational survey about this. Our registration for religious school is comprehensive in this area. Members of the committee, including a first grader in a motorized wheelchair, did a walk-through of the building using the ADA checklist and created a list of physical accessibility issues. This is currently in draft form.
We provide one-to-one “shadows” for certain students with special needs in the school.
There is a B’nai Mitzvah tutor with expertise in teaching children with disabilities, and a liaison to those families to provide guidance and assistance.
Evidence of Successful Inclusion Efforts
The work of the committee is slowly being recognized.
How We're Using and Sharing the Disabilities Inclusion Learning Center
I have distributed, and will continue to distribute, this information to the Religious School faculty and committee members throughout the year.
Future Inclusion Efforts
Funding for an automatic door and other physical improvements; improvements in accessibility of our website; added participation of non-disabled members in inclusion Shabbat services; increased awareness by Religious School teachers; added participation in youth programs and retreats.