8 May 2019
By Rabbi Danny Rich
“You shall not place a stumbling block before the blind”, which appears in this week’s Parsha Kedoshim, appears so obvious that it hardly seems worth a mention in Torah.
In a similar way the demand to implement practical means to prevent the exclusion of disabled persons – indeed the idea of the Disability Awareness Shabbat which takes place this weekend – ought be so obvious as to not be required.
Jewish tradition understood this verse as not simply its most obvious, but rather as a demand to preclude the any person taking advantage of the weakness of another.
Liberal Judaism, in turn, does not simply mandate the physical removal of obstacles which exclude any person from participation in synagogue life but rather mandates individuals and constituent communities to an audit to ensure that it is doing everything to include every person in Liberal Jewish life.
“You shall love your neighbour as yourself”, also in Parsha Kedoshim, is traditionally understood as the requirement to treat another as one would wish to be treated.
Liberal Judaism has always prided itself on providing a voice for those who do not get traditional heard.
In the past Liberal Judaism has championed the rights of woman, persons in non-traditional family arrangements and transgendered people. Liberal Judaism values every individual and supports each person in meeting their synagogal needs.
Disability Awareness Shabbat is another method of seeking to complete our communities, ensuring nobody is excluded.
For all these reasons, I fully support this fantastic new initiative from Jewish Blind & Disabled, a charity which this year is celebrating 50 wonderful years supporting our community.
I hope Liberal Jews around the UK and Ireland take time to find out more about the work Jewish Blind & Disabled does and all the different ways we can help to, in turn, support them.
* This article by Rabbi Danny Rich, Liberal Judaism’s senior rabbi, appears in Disability Awareness Shabbat booklets that can be found in synagogues this Shabbat.
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