Israeli synagogues and communities will mark Accessibility Shabbat to call attention to the needs of the disabled community within Jewish tradition and in Jewish institutions.
The event this weekend, launched by the Israel-based Tzohar Rabbinical Organization, coincides with International Day of Persons with Disability, marked on Dec. 3. The weekend event will focus on the needs of the visually impaired community, Tzohar announced.
Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, chair of the Tzohar Ethics Center, said that appreciating the needs of the disabled is a Jewish value that is all too often overlooked.
“The reality is that a sizable percentage of people who want to come and pray and benefit from synagogue are simply unable to do so because of a wide range of disabilities that exist within our communities,” Cherlow said. “It cannot be acceptable that it is their responsibility to come to us and demand change. Rather we as a Jewish community must initiate a new outlook and how we relate to their challenges- and help them be addressed.”
Accessibility Shabbat, which was held for the first time in 2015, calls upon congregations in Israel and abroad to review their physical plans, tools and materials to assist the disabled and encourage conversation about how to facilitate greater accessibility.
Tzohar also recommends that all religious institutions dedicate a percentage of their operating budget to better address issues of accessibility.