WASHINGTON, DC - February is Jewish Disability Awareness Month, and Jewish Federations and their partner agencies across North America will sponsor programs and events in an effort to promote more inclusive Jewish communities and to increase awareness of the needs, strengths, opportunities and challenges of individuals with disabilities.
"We are keenly aware of the many societal challenges individuals with disabilities face, and we will continue to strive for the highest standards of their inclusion," said Janet Livingston, Co-Chair of JFNA's Human Services and Public Policy Disability Committee. "The areas of accessibility, acceptance, accommodation and welcoming are critical in guiding JFNA's public policy initiatives and community efforts to raise awareness and address the concerns on behalf of individuals with disabilities."
The month's capstone event will take place on February 12, 2013, when JFNA's Washington Office will once again partner with the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism to host the third annual Jewish Disability Advocacy Day (JDAD) on Capitol Hill. Several high-profile public policy experts will deliver briefings at the day-long event, including:
- David Lara, Senior Legislative Associate for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities;
- Donna Meltzer, Chief Executive Officer for the National Association of Council on Developmental Disabilities;
- Andrew Imparato, Senior Counsel and Disability Policy Director for the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; and
- William Daroff, Vice President for Public Policy and Director of the Washington Office at The Jewish Federations of North America
The day will conclude with the opportunity for participants to meet with Members of Congress to advocate on public policy issues impacting the disability community and the agencies serving them.
"Jewish Disability Advocacy Day is a key opportunity for the Jewish community to work together, and to learn from each other on behalf of and with individuals with disabilities," Daroff said. "We look forward to a thoughtful and robust discussion about how we can continue to develop sound public policy that improves the lives of individuals with disabilities and their families."
JFNA is a long-standing advocate for individuals with disabilities and their full inclusion into society, specifically Jewish life, and has supported and developed a variety of programs to support disability awareness and forums for addressing key issues facing the community. Most recently, in November 2012, JFNA hosted a conference dedicated to developing a culture of inclusion in Jewish communities, building on several disability awareness sessions held at the organization's 2012 General Assembly earlier that month. During the conference, attendees developed tools to create an immediate impact relative to inclusion in their organizations, congregations and communities and discussed the difficult concepts and questions communities must address in order to develop and embrace this culture.