Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi is the President of RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization working to empower people with disabilities to achieve the American dream. She works regularly with disability organizations, national, state and local policy leaders, workforce development professionals, media, employers, philanthropists, celebrities and faith-based organizations in order to expand opportunities for people with disabilities. Mizrahi has led numerous national polls and brought significant visibility to the issues of America’s 56 million citizens with disabilities. She is the co-author of a major toolkit on best practices on employment for people with disabilities and frequently hosts webinars on this topic. Mizrahi has published dozens of op-eds and publications on disability issues, including in USA Today, Huffington Post, The Hill and other publications. Dyslexic herself, she also knows what it means to parent a child with multiple disabilities. Reach her at JenniferM@RespectAbilityUSA.org.
I have a disability (dyslexia) and could not really read or write until I was twelve. I remember vividly how people called me “stupid” and worse. I found my strength in my connection to G-d and the Jewish people. Over time, I learned to adapt and be strong. Judaism and the Jewish people (and my family) gave me that gift.
Sadly, not everybody can tell my story. Many people with disabilities are excluded from our community because of their disability. This has been especially painful for me because now, as a parent, I have watched my own child with a disability be excluded from religious services, Sunday school and Jewish day school.
But here’s the thing … children like mine need and deserve their connection to G-d and our people — and we need them. They offer us as many gifts as we can offer them. So I am proud to be in a position today where I can help offer a one-day training program, “Tzedek Tirdof: Pursuing Justice Through Inclusion,” that can help us open our tents and be the best Jewish community that we can be: http://www.pjll.org/content/tzedek-tirdof-pursuing-justice-may-2-2013
I hope that you will join me for this event and that if you can’t, but would like to host something similar, that you will contact me through the Jewish Week’s New Normal blog. I’ve read dozens of books/articles on these topics, and the main speakers are literally among the very best experts in the world. Please don’t miss this very special opportunity! Fully 20 percent of Americans have a disability, and our community can’t afford to lose Jews with disabilities or their families!
Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, a winning veteran of many political battles, is the Founder & President of www.LaszloStrategies.com. She has dyslexia and knows what it means to be the proud parent of a child with a disability.