Judaism teaches us that each of us is created in God’s image and that each of us is to be valued equally. This is a core principle of Congregation Ohav Shalom. The Inclusion of Individuals with Disabilities Committee of Ohav is focused on ensuring that our shul and its programs are accessible to those who might otherwise not have the opportunity to participate fully in the life our Ohav community. We seek to create an inclusive and welcoming environment at Ohav.
The Committee was established in early 2016 as a prelude to Ohav’s selection to participate in the Ruderman Inclusion Action Community coordinated by the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. The Ruderman Family Foundation supports programs that advocate for and promote the full inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of Jewish life. Through Ohav’s participation in the Inclusion Action Community, we have gained access to resources and technical assistance that inform and enhance our efforts.
The Ohav Inclusion of Individuals with Disabilities Committee comprises individuals with disabilities, parents of individuals with disabilities, professionals in the field, Board members, the Rabbis and interested congregants. The Committee’s accomplishments to date include:
• Securing funding to support transportation to religious services for one individual
• Doing an accessibility audit of the building and beginning to implement the recommendations
• Purchasing and prominently placing large print Shabbat Siddurim and Machzorim
• Participating in community-wide disabilities awareness and inclusion programs
• Developing a survey for the congregation to identify barriers to full participation by individuals with disabilities
On February 4, 2017 Ohav hosted a program on Jewish Disabilities Awareness Month after Shabbat service. Click the JDAM logo for Ohav members stories about living with disabilities. Ohav member Robert Gumson addressed the congregation that Shabbos and gave this definition of inclusion. .“I leave you with the notion that inclusion is never complete. It’s a work in progress. The best definition I’ve heard is that it is the actions taken when someone is comfortable enough in their own shoes to be with someone else who is different from them.” You can read his full address here
Ohav Shalom’s sanctuary is completely accessible. In addition, there are large print siddurim and hearing loop devices available to enhance participation in religious services.
Please see below for links to further resources on this subject.
Click here to take our short Inclusion Survey. This survey will help our Inclusion committee identify where the Ohav community needs to improve to make our shul more accessible.