Disability Rights


In the U.S. and Canada more than 67 million people have some form of disability. According to the 2019 American Community Survey, 4.3 percent of children in the US have a physical, mental, and/or emotional disability, and an estimated 2.6 million households have at least one child in the home with a disability. With the passage momentous civil rights legislation, the U.S. and Canada have made significant progress in recent decades, but in both countries people with disabilities still lag behind national averages in education completed, employment rates, income, technology access, homeownership, and voter participation. As Americans, Canadians, and members of the Jewish community we must continue our support for disability rights by educating our communities, ensuring accessibility in our synagogues and services, supporting disability rights legislation, and demanding enforcement of existing laws.


Why Should Jews Care


  • Jewish tradition teaches us of our obligation to ensure equal access for all people and to help facilitate the full participation of individuals with disabilities in religious and public life.  In Leviticus 19:14 we are commanded, "You shall not insult the deaf, or place a stumbling block before the blind." Stumbling blocks come in many forms, unequal access or subpar educational and employment opportunities, lack of accessible housing and transportation, and discrimination and exclusion in both Jewish and secular spaces. 
  • Further, in Pirkei Avot 2:5 we are taught "Do not separate yourself from the community.” However, due to persistent systemic barriers to education, transportation, technology, health care, community involvement, and independent living, many people living with disabilities are consistently alienated from the community against their will. These teachings remind us that there is still much work to be done to reach full inclusion for all people in our society.
  • Other Jewish texts on disability issues include: "For my house shall be a house of prayer for all people." (Isaiah 56:5)
  • "But Moses said to the Lord, 'Please, O Eternal, I have never been a man of words, either in times past or now that You have spoken to Your servant; I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.'  And the Lord said to him, 'Who gives man speech?  Who makes him dumb or deaf, seeing or blind?  Is it not I, the Eternal?'"(Exodus 4:10-11)

Take Action

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Tell Congress: Allow six million more people with disabilities to save for the future

Passed in 2014, the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act allowed people with disabilities up to age 26 and their families to establish tax-advantaged savings and investment plans called ABLE Accounts. Although the ABLE Act continues to provide an important measure of financial security to people with disabilities, anyone who acquires a disability after they turn 26 is ineligible to create an ABLE account. Urge your members of Congress to cosponsor the ABLE Age Adjustment Act to help millions of additional people with disabilities save for the future.

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Join Us for Jewish Disability Advocacy Day

Learn from disability rights activists and take action to advance the needs and rights of people with disabilities. Part of Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month, this virtual event is hosted in partnership with Jewish Federations of North America and other community partners.

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Urge Congress to Support the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Restoration Act

Due to out-of-date benefits and caps on earned income and assets, SSI, the federal program that provides a minimum level of income to impoverished people with severe disabilities and older adults, is trapping people in poverty -- providing financial assistance that is now 26% below the federal poverty level. The SSI program needs to be updated, and the SSI Restoration Act will lift more than 3 million vulnerable Americans out of poverty by increasing SSI benefits to match the federal poverty level and modernizing caps on earned income and assets that have not been updated since the 1980s. Urge your Members of Congress to co-sponsor and pass the SSI Restoration Act now!

Reform Judaism Resolutions on Disability Rights

Learn more about the position of the Reform Movement on these key issues, and read the formal resolutions by the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis.

View URJ Resolutions

View CCAR Resolutions

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Inclusion Resources

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Hineinu: Here We Are

More can and must be done to build a more inclusive Jewish community. Created with our partner organizations, Hineinu is a guide to breaking down barriers and creating inclusive communities.

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5 Ways to Be an Ally to People with Disabilities

As we highlight disability inclusion and work toward disability inclusion in our Jewish communities all year long, here are just a few ways to be an individual ally to people with disabilities.

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URJ Audacious Hospitality Resources

Find resources, including our congregational toolkit, created by the URJ Audacious Hospitality team to help you make your community more equitable and inclusive.

Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month

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What is Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month?

Established in 2009, JDAIM is a unified initiative to raise disability awareness and support efforts to foster inclusion in Jewish communities worldwide.

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18 Ways Congregations Can Observe Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month

JDAIM’s founder explains why our congregations and communities should participate in Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month and suggestions for doing so.

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Download the Latest Inclusion Guide

Shelly Christensen of Inclusion Innovations, founder of Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month, shares an annual JDAIM recent inclusion guide and other materials.

What's New

Related Press Releases

Disability Inclusion and Jewish Values

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What Does the Torah Say about People with Disabilities?

We are taught “Do not separate yourself from the community” (Pirke Avot 2:5); accordingly, we must prevent anyone from being separated from the community against their will.

Engage Your Congregation

  • Jewish Disability Advocacy Day: During this one-day event in Washington, D.C., hundreds of Jews with disabilities and their allies gather to learn about current disability rights policy, raise awareness on disability inclusion, and advocate for relevant legislative priorities on Capitol Hill.
  • Audacious Hospitality: The Union for Reform Judaism's Audacious Hospitality initiative provides toolkits, educational resources, and more to help you make your spaces more inclusive.
  • Hineinu: A Jewish Guide to Inclusion: The Hineinu guide is an innovative collaboration of disability professionals, activists, and policy experts from the Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist and Reform Jewish Movements designed to increase disability inclusion in our synagogues for people of all abilities.
  • Jewish Disability Advocacy, Awareness, and Inclusion Month (JDAIM)Every February, North American communities from every major Jewish stream recognize Jewish Disability Advocacy, Awareness, and Inclusion Month, a unified initiative to raise disability awareness and support efforts to foster inclusion in Jewish communities worldwide.
  • Disabilities Inclusion Learning Center: Visit our online learning center, developed by the URJ in partnership with the Ruderman Family Foundation, the site features engaging and impactful skill building study sessions, videos and other resources provided by leading disabilities inclusion experts on creating accessible learning, vocational, social, worship and communal experiences for people of all ages.
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Every Voice, Every Vote

The Reform Jewish Movement’s 2022 Every Voice, Every Vote Campaign is a nonpartisan effort, grounded in our Jewish values and commitment to racial justice, to strengthen our democracy by encouraging and protecting voter participation.

Our Partners

Jewish Federations of North America

The RAC is proud to partner with the Jewish Federations of North America on disability rights policy and organize Jewish Disability Advocacy Day.

Interfaith Disability Advocacy Collaborative (IDAC)

The RAC is proud to be on the Steering Committee of the Interfaith Disability Advocacy Collaborative, a group of more than two dozen faith-based organizations working to advance disability rights and inclusion.