Two more Reform initiatives


I appreciate your recent informative article, “Reform Reaches Out,” (Sept 11). I would like to share two additional initiatives of Reform Movement outreach efforts.

First, the Reform Movement is reaching out to Jews with disabilities and their families. The Union for Reform Judaism is working to help our congregations offer full participation in the spiritual, educational and social aspects of synagogue life. Our Ruderman Synagogue Inclusion Initiative aims to educate leaders and thus improve attitudes about inclusion of people with disabilities. Via online and in-person workshops, we are actively teaching community leaders, clergy, Jewish professionals, organizational leaders and congregants how to ensure full inclusion and participation of people with disabilities and their families in every aspect of Reform Jewish life.

My personal wish is to take what I’ve learned from my experience as a person with a disability and help all Jews understand that we human beings are, all of us – people with disabilities and people without disabilities – created b’tzelem Elokim (in the Divine image).

Second, your article is absolutely correct that “Reform synagogues are reaching out to various other Jewish groups and have begun partnering with them.” The URJ in partnership with the OU created the historic collaboration, Hineinu, with the Conservative and Reconstructionist movements. All four movements have come together to form Hineinu, an innovative collaboration of the disability professionals from each stream sharing resources, support and direction in order to increase disability inclusion in our synagogues for people of all abilities.

Thank you for your series on “The State of the Movements.” You are helping all Jews get to know and appreciate one another.

Senior Advisor on Disability Issues
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

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  1. I am a Jewish woman with both physical and brain disabilities. I am very intelligent but have had autism since infancy. Now at 50 the meds I have taken all my life have left me very physically sick and disabled and I am in a nursing home. I feel very much left out of my community and I wish there were more outreach available to help people like me to still feel apart of our communities. My last rabbi often told me that though I could not attend I was still a valued and vibrant member of our Shul, and she often visited and studied with me. But I get little support from my Synagogue at this point. I am not so much angry as saddened. I know my new Rabbi is good for our Shul and does much to help make things better for most of the people. But I do feel left out. I am not a parent or child. I am an old disabled single woman who is locked away in a nursing home no longer even in the same town as my shul, though only a half hour drive. I didn’t actually even get a card for Rosh Hashanah this year. I wonder if they even left me as a member on the rolls. Or if they just got rid of me since I moved out of town….I called several times but never got an answer and I am tired and keep giving up. I have only one brother and since I am a Jew by Choice (for many years now) he is not Jewish. And there are no Jews in my nursing home. I feel all alone. One member my Shul visits and she does not believe in G-d so I asked the congregation to send one regular visitor who does believe in G-d as I do, to visit me so I can share my faith, my questions, my worries, my doubts, my fears, to someone who understands and can talk to me on my level, which though I love my other friend, I can not talk to her that way. Nobody has ever called even. Nobody. I thought I was a loved member of my Shul when I was able to attend but now I wonder if I was wrong. It hurts very much.
    I think because I am autistic people don’t think I count. Some people don’t even feel we are quite human I think, they think we are missing the vital thing I guess. I am human. I think, I feel. I have trouble with close relationships and I get agitated easily if presented with change or something new but I try very hard. I sometimes do get very much lost in my own obsessive thinking. often circular. But I am a human with the same needs and wants and feelings for the most part as anyone else, and the ways I am different just make me special, not worse. My mother of blessed memory called me a blue rose and she bought me a teacup with one on it.
    well that is all, sorry if I rambled.
    I hope that we are able as Jews to learn to include all of our members and not leave any to fall through the cracks although I feel that is what is happening to me.
    Adelle John


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