Press Release: Jewish Values Include Disability Justice—New Guide Empowers Readers to Make Community More Inclusive


NEW YORK—Jewish Funders Network has released a new Guide to Jewish Values and Disability Rights, exploring the powerful connections between major Jewish values and disability justice. The guide is a free resource for Jewish leaders, educators, funders, social activists, and institutions, and will empower readers to help create Jewish communities that are fully inclusive of all people, including those with disabilities.

The guide delves into the disability implications of Jewish values such astzelem Elohim (all people are made in the image of God); areyvut(communal responsibility); kavod (dignity/respect); tzedek (justice); andtikkun olam (repairing the world). In addition to values, Jewish communal self-interest also mandates disability justice. Roughly 15 percent of all people live with a disability that significantly affects their daily lives. So out of an estimated 14 million Jews worldwide, it is likely that more than 2 million Jews live with significant disabilities.

“Disability rights, like all human rights, are everyone’s responsibility,” comments Ruth Messinger, President of American Jewish World Service. “This guide has an important message for all Jewish leaders and institutions and I encourage them to follow the identified actions and bring those values into practical reality.” The guide “inspires us to live our Jewish values by ensuring everything we do is inclusive and accessible for people with disabilities,” Messinger adds.

“We hope that this guide will spark new and urgent dialogue,” says JFN President & CEO Andrés Spokoiny. “Because Jewish funders, leaders, and institutions can’t avoid disability issues. We are all working in this space, whether we know it or not. The only question is whether we’re working actively to include people who have disabilities or whether we’re unwittingly perpetuating exclusion.”

Rabbi Julia Watts Belser, an Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies at Georgetown University and an expert in disability and gender in rabbinic literature and law, authored the guide for JFN. It is available for free download in two accessible formats, PDF and as an audiobook recorded by voiceover artist and JFN member Mark Moshe Bellows. Both versions can be downloaded at An anonymous foundation sponsored the publication.

Jewish Funders Network is the global networking organization for high-capacity Jewish philanthropists. JFN works with funders, individually and collectively, to improve the quality of their giving and maximize their impact. They convene events, workshops, and networking opportunities throughout the year in addition to their flagship annual conference, act as “matchmakers” between funders with similar philanthropic interests, and produce digital and print resources to disseminate best practices in strategic giving. More information is available at

Press Contact: 

Seth Chalmer
Communications Manager
[email protected]
(212) 726-0177 x218