Earlier this week, “The New Normal” reported on a Purim party put on by Boston Workman’s Circle which warned wheelchair users against participating.
We are proud to announce that as a result of our piece, Workmen’s Circle has apologized for their previous choice in venue and will be placing a new policy on disability access and inclusion before their board this weekend. We at the “The New Normal” are thrilled to learn that Workmen’s Circle has taken this first step and committed to do the right thing. For too many in the Jewish and broader communities, exclusion of people with disabilities remains a sin that all will condemn but few will take responsibility for ending. The acknowledgement by Workmen’s Circle that their Boston affiliate erred in selecting and defending a venue which excluded wheelchair users is an important step forward.
Yet, the work does not end here. Expect a new piece from us next week, reporting on the decisions the Workmen’s Circle Board made regarding disability access. Beyond that, this won’t be the last time that we cover failures of accessibility in the Jewish community. Jews with disabilities deserve a commitment that no one should be turned away from an event or program of our shared community because of their disability. “The New Normal” will remain on the case, ensuring that the follow up we see in the aftermath of this incident is meaningful and robust. As Justice Louis Brandeis once said, “Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; Electric light the most efficient policeman.” We believe this to be the case. On this and many other issues, expect “The New Normal” to be an active voice in support of the moral and legal necessity of inclusion.
Ari Ne’eman is the President and co-founder of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, a national community advocacy organization run by and for Autistic adults. Since 2010, he has served as one of President Obama’s appointees to the National Council on Disability, where he currently chairs the Council’s Entitlements Committee and is both the youngest and the first openly Autistic presidential appointee in American history. He is a Schechter and Ramah dropout and was one of the New York Jewish Week’s 36 by 36 in 2010.