Temple Sinai Disability Inclusion Task Force

Temple Sinai’s Disability Inclusion Task Force has been in existence for a little over a year, but has done important work to make Temple Sinai welcoming to people of all abilities.

The Temple Sinai Disability Inclusion Task Force, formed by a core group of congregants, took on the task of assessing the Temple’s physical, attitudinal, and educational inclusiveness.  The Task Force completed its physical inclusiveness assessment last summer, and as a result, efforts to make the Temple Rose Garden accessible are currently underway. Removing barriers for individuals with visual impairments in temple publications and prayer books, providing educational tools for religious school students with learning disabilities and improving supports for individuals with hearing impairments, are just a few projects that the Task Force has spearheaded.

In March 2016, Mara Kaplan led the Task Force in inviting Shelley Christensen, the co-founder of the Jewish Special Education Consortium, to speak at a special Shabbat service in recognition of Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month. The Friday Night Mostly Musical Disability Friendly Shabbat service was so popular that it will become a regular feature starting in October 2016.

During her visit, Shelley Christensen led training sessions with both clergy and staff to increase staff and clergy familiarity with disability issues. Shelley also facilitated a strategic planning session with the Task Force itself.

The concerns of the Disability Inclusion Task Force have not gone unnoticed by the rest of the congregation.  At a learning session on Yom Kippur last year, entitled “Including All: Personal Stories of Sinai Members Whose Lives Have Been Touched by Dis/Different Ability,” congregants watched a video about disability in Jewish life to spark a frank conversation. The religious school participated in programs led by the Children’s Institute and their annual tzedakah project raised funds for the Friendship Circle. This year, a learning session on Yom Kippur organized by the Task Force will focus on mental illness specifically.

The Task Force’s work continues; expect some exciting news in 2017! For information on accommodation at Temple Sinai, contact  Judy Mahan, judy@templesinaipgh.org 412.421.9715 x 110.

This post brought to you with special thanks to Lisa Lederer, Co-Chair of the Temple Sinai Disability Inclusion Task Force

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