Thank you for spotlighting the enormous contribution that philanthropist Jay Ruderman is making to raise the consciousness of the world Jewish community about our obligation to include and support people with disabilities as full members of our community (“More Needed For Special Jews,” Dec. 16).
Here in New York, UJA-Federation and its network of agencies has, in partnership with the J.E. & Z.B. Butler Foundation, not only recognized but embraced this mission of creating a more welcoming, supportive and inclusive Jewish community, acknowledging that we all are created B’Tselem Elohim, in the image of God.
Working with our network of agencies, we have helped expand the services for individuals with disabilities and their families, which can be readily found in our recently published 2012 resource directory of disability services, which is available on UJA-Federation’s website: http://www.ujafedny.org/disability-directory/
Moreover, we have been assisting synagogues to help them create more welcoming and inclusive communities. Committed to transforming societal attitudes about individuals with disabilities, we founded, in collaboration with the JCC in Manhattan, the ReelAbilities: New York Disabilities Film Festival (www.reelabilities.org), recognizing the power of film to help raise public consciousness about the lives and aspirations of those living with disabilities.
There is still so much to be done, but we have begun the journey.
Deputy Managing Director Government Relations and External Affairs UJA-Federation of New York