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Disability World: New start for disability this Rosh Hashanah

30 August 2018

The time offered for reflection at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur should be used to think about people with disabilities, says Melinda Jones, in The Times of Israel.

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Melinda, a scholar working on projects related to disability, Judaism and Jewish law, discusses four problem areas for people with a disability and constructive ways everyone can raise the barriers to inclusion.

She points out that people with a learning or physical disability make up about 20% of the community, so shuls with less than this number are simply rendering them invisible. Shuls need to seek out those who could be part of the community, but are not.

Poverty is a major issue, with medical care and equipment costly and unemployment common. Individuals with disabilities should be helped with the cost of shul membership, be provided with books, tallit and kippot or even given a job within the community that pays properly.

The everyday discrimination often faced by individuals with disabilities can be overcome with simple solutions, Melinda says. Communities should ask themselves what they can do to facilitate inclusion, either by supporting an individual – helping with essential bills perhaps, or changing the environment in shuls or community buildings by installing a ramp or a lift.

Finally, she calls on communities to give the same support offered to the elderly and Holocaust survivors to those with disabilities. She says: “Make it your mission as well as your responsibility to bring about the changes needed to really make a difference. Share the joy of the upcoming year with your family, friends and neighbours – including those previously excluded from the benefits of being Jewish.”

To read the article, written last year, go to:

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“The world stands on three things: Torah, the service of G-d, and deeds of kindness.” Kisharon looks at the person not the disability, teaching Torah, Middos and Mitzvot embracing and cherishing everybody’s special talent and bringing out the best in them.