One-hundred-eighty disability advocates lobbied Congress on February 2, the seventh annual Jewish Disability Advocacy Day, expressing their support for the preservation of Medicaid and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Activists involved in helping people who have developmental, physical and/or mental disabilities gathered together to see how they could best help everyone to be included in society and become active participants in the Jewish community.
Advocacy Day “was important last year, and it will be important next year,” said Rabbi Jonah Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center (RAC), the Reform Jewish movement’s social action organization.
“Including everyone in Jewish and daily life is a core Jewish value,” he said. “We need to keep improving, not just hold the line. I think that is one of the hallmarks of the United States, that we keep building on programs.”
It is particularly important to remain vigilant this year, “because there is so much turbulence in the political system,” said Pesner. The RAC and the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) were the main sponsors of the day-long event. Participants listened to eight congress members and several disability experts before breaking up into small groups to lobby 50 members of congress.
“I think that the thing that impressed me the most was the fact that you have so many people there, from Chabad down to the non-affiliated. Everybody is sitting together, working together for one common cause, with the respect I find in very few places,” said Batya Jacob, director of educational support services for Yachad, a division of the Orthodox Union.
“We all work together, because we all know the only way we will succeed is to work together,” said Jacob, who has attended Advocacy Day for the past three years.