Hundreds of activists took part this afternoon in Jewish Federations of North America’s 13th annual Jewish Disability Advocacy Day (JDAD) to advocate for expanded services. The virtual event brought together members of the disability community, advocates and community leaders to harness their collective power and advocate for federal policies that break down barriers to opportunity and inclusion and empower people with disabilities. JDAD has been instrumental in shaping key federal legislation, inspiring grass-roots advocacy and building support from congressional leaders.
This year, JDAD’s advocacy efforts focused on securing additional federal funding to expand Medicaid-funded Home-and Community-Based Services (HCBS) for low-income people with disabilities as well as older adults and help get 656,000 people off long waiting lists for essential care to receive essential care in their homes and communities. Some individuals have been waiting over ten years for these critical services.
The event culminated with a letter signed by 135 national and local Jewish organizations urging Members of Congress to prioritize policies that empower people with disabilities to live with greater independence and economic stability.
“Guided by our Jewish values, Jewish Federations work every day to advance disability rights and ensure that every individual has a seat at the table,” said Associate Vice President of Public Affairs and Government Relations at Jewish Federations of North America Darcy Hirsh. “Our community is stronger when we prioritize inclusion and work to ensure that all members of our society receive the support they need to flourish. That is why we are committed to improving the lives of people with disabilities.”
The event featured remarks from Members of Congress, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA). Participants heard from disability advocates and Yolanda Savage-Narva, AVP of Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (REDI) for the Union for Reform Judaism.
An estimated 61 million American adults live with a disability and nearly 26% live in poverty, compared to the national average of 11.6%. Jewish Federations work every day to support services and initiatives that empower individuals with disabilities, in order to create a more inclusive and equitable society for all humanity. Jewish Federations also support hundreds of group homes, family service agencies, vocational training organizations, nonprofit hospitals and nursing and assisted living facilities nationwide, providing care to over 1.3 million individuals of all faiths and backgrounds annually.
Jewish Federations are on the frontlines on Capitol Hill every day advocating for legislation to expand disability access, advance policies that breakdown barriers to inclusion, and improve vital safety net public programs, like Medicaid, that are essential for people with disabilities. Jewish Federations played a lead role in the passage of the ABLE Age Adjustment Act last December, allowing people who become disabled later in life, such as accident victims and veterans, to have access to important tax-free savings plans for costly disability-related expenses, such as therapies and medical equipment. Passage of this act has been a long-standing priority of JDAD.
JDAD is hosted by Jewish Federations of North America, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and the Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies. JDAD takes place every February during Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion Month, when Jewish organizations and communities worldwide join in a unified effort to raise awareness and champion the rights of people with disabilities.
For more information on JDAD go to https://www.jewishtogether.org/jdad-2023