Yachad, an agency of the Orthodox Union has embarked on Hineinu: Jewish Community for People of All Abilities, the latest initiative in its goal of bringing full Inclusion in Jewish life to those with disabilities.Hineinu (“We are here”) is the first-ever formal combination of human rights and disability professionals from each of the four religious streams, sharing resources, support and direction in order to increase disability Inclusion in our synagogues for people of all abilities.
In order to actively and systematically increase disability Inclusion at the synagogue level, the Orthodox Union is partnering with the Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist movements. “There will be no sharing of religious services or practices between the OU and other denominations – that is not the goal of Hineinu,” said Dr. Jeffrey Lichtman, international director of the National Jewish Council for Disabilities (NJCD), which includes Yachad as its flagship program.
Yachad, the only international disability agency serving the Jewish community, provides a full gamut of unique programs and services for individuals with learning, developmental, and physical disabilities.
Hineinu is based on the principle that if each synagogue community fosters attitudes of Inclusion and acceptance in a direct and meaningful way, this change will grow and develop into a wholly inclusive larger Jewish world.
Hineinu is the outgrowth of the efforts of Deborah Berman, LCSW, director of social work for Yachad. She, along with colleague Rabbi Lynne Landsberg, senior advisor on disability issues for the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, conceived the idea of bringing the four streams together on behalf of widespread synagogue-based Inclusion. With Dr. Lichtman’s support, this groundbreaking initiative was set in motion and the Reconstructionist and Conservative movements were invited to join as well.
“Hineinu is an historic collaboration, a joint effort which, in itself, exemplifies the spirit of Inclusionthat we hope to bring to synagogues and to people with natural variations in abilities and disabilities,” Deborah Berman explained. “On the grassroots, community level, we will promote the Inclusion of each and every Jew, regardless of natural variations in abilities and disabilities, to take their rightful place in the Jewish world.”
Hineinu has developed an online disability resources guide for rabbis, which Yachad has tailored to meet the needs of Orthodox clergy. The guide contains ideas and suggestions for making synagogue and communal life more disability-friendly.
For further information, or to become a participating synagogue in the Hineinu initiative with the Orthodox Union, contact the Yachad Office at 212-613-8229.
To view the original press release from Hineinu from November 2013, please click here.