Rabbi Praises Montgomery County Synagogue's Move Toward Disability Inclusion

An inclusion grant aimed at making synagogue life more accessible for people with disabilities hits home for a Montgomery County rabbi.

Melrose B’nai Israel Emanu-El along Old York Road in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania announced it received a United Synagogue if Conservative Judaism Ruderman Foundation grant Monday morning. MBIEE is among just 18 synagogues around the country to receive the grant aimed at including people with disabilities fully in the community.

Rabbi Charles Sherman lauded the grant as helping the synagogue become more inclusive.

"This is a very exciting opportunity for us," said Sherman. "It impacts the total community. No one is immune from life’s challenges. While we feel we do a good job welcoming all people, and having our sacred space accessible -­ there is always room for improvement. And through education, through programs and our interactions, we can help change people’s attitudes and make the synagogue an even more positive and accepting place."

The inclusion initiative is important for Sherman whose 35-year-old son Eyal Sherman is a quadriplegic dependent on a vent to breath since the age of 4.

United Synagogue launched its inclusion grants initiative in 2014. They will send inclusion specialists to MBIEE to determine where improvements can be made so that everyone can participate in all facets of religious life, said MBIEE.

Sherman hopes to inspire other public spaces and places of worship to increase accessibility.

"This is not about just building ramps," said Sherman. "This is about a basic Jewish concept -- Tikkun Olam -- repairing the world."

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