Home > Rabbi's Message > Disability Rights Are a Jewish Issue

This summer the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which prohibits discrimination based on disabilities, marked its 30th anniversary of being signed into law. Yet, according to the Reform Movement’s Religious Action Center, people with disabilities still lag behind national averages in education completed, employment rates, income, technology access, home ownership, and voter participation. We must continue our support for disability rights by educating our communities, ensuring accessibility, supporting disability rights legislation, and demanding enforcement of existing laws.

I was reminded of the importance of this legislation in reading this week’s Torah portion, R’eih. The word itself means “See!” and the portion opens with Moses reminding the Israelites to “See, this day I set before you blessing and curse” (Deut. 1:26). A superficial reading might lead us to believe Torah is being insensitive to the visually impaired. However, the true meaning of this verse shows that the command “See!” is not about sight, but about comprehension. We must understand that following God’s laws and commandments is what brings blessing into our lives.

The prophet Hosea (14:10) explains it this way:

He who is wise will consider these words,
He who is prudent will take note of them.
For the paths of Adonai are smooth;
The righteous can walk on them,
While sinners stumble on them.

May we choose blessing by taking action for equality and social justice for everyone.
For more information, please see https://rac.org/issues/disability-rights

Rabbi Bellush