The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, with support from the Ruderman Family Foundation, will launch an initiative to transform Conservative congregations into truly inclusive communities for people with disabilities.
Through the grant, the UCSJ will work with its affiliated congregations to develop comprehensive visions and action plans on inclusion. The goal is to create congregations where everything — from the entryway to the bima, from education programs to prayer services, from social activities to the very attitudes of congregants and leaders — allows people with disabilities and their families to participate fully and comfortably in congregational life.
“Many of our kehillot have begun to meet the need for inclusion, primarily in the architectural arena,” said Rabbi Steven Wernick, CEO of the Conservative movement’s umbrella group. “But few have been able to undertake the intense research, reflection and planning needed to make inclusion a spiritual and programmatic reality.”
The UCSJ will use the Ruderman grant to hire an inclusion specialist who will collaborate with its leadership consultants in working with congregations. The USCJ team will create an “action community” of 10 to 20 congregations that demonstrate the interest and readiness to study and work intensively on developing a realistic blueprint for change that will then be shared with other congregations.
“Inclusion of people of all different abilities is already an intrinsic value held by generations of younger Jews,” said Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “Working toward the goal of building an inclusive community, our foundation is proud to partner with United Synagogue to help encourage the establishment of inclusive synagogues across North America and thereby making our Jewish community more welcoming for all.”