Imagine wanting to join a minyan to say Kaddish for your mother only to find that the nearby synagogue has steps that you cannot climb. Wheelchair users regularly experience this. Imagine wanting to attend a shiur (class) that is given by a renowned Jewish scholar, but is given in a language that you cannot understand. Deaf men and women regularly experience this. Imagine wanting to marry but you're set up not based on your strengths and attractive qualities. Instead, people indiscriminately and needlessly match you primarily based upon on your disability, health condition, or "special needs" label. People with obvious or "hidden" disabilites regularly experience this.
Most of us at Yad HaChazakah -The Jewish Disability Empowerment Center don't need to imagine it. We experience the barriers to Jewish life and learning, as well as limiting and condescending attitudes every day.
Organized in 2006, the founders of Yad HaChazakah (meaning "the powerful arm", in Hebrew) were distressed by the lack of access for and participation by people with various disabilities or conditions in Jewish community life. Yad HaChazakah is led by and for Jews with obvious or hidden disabilities or ongoing conditions in accordance with Torah principles. Leadership conveys self direction, competence, and vision.
Yad HaChazakah-JDEC provides guidance, resource information, advocacy, and support networks for people with obvious or hidden disabilities or health conditions and their families as we promote access to Jewish community life. Together, we work with callers and visitors develop their capacities and form a network of resources to:
We envision Jewish communities where buildings and programs are designed with people with varying capacities in mind and where people marry based upon character and attraction regardless of whether one has or does not have a disability. "We want to be sought, valued, and accommodated for the strengths we bring to our communities", Mrs. Sharon Shapiro-Lacks, Yad HaChazakah's Executive Director declares.
We invite you to join us in helping people with disabilities or health conditions become active and contributing members in Jewish communities.