The Emanuel Synagogue in West Hartford is one of twelve congregations from throughout the country selected to participate in the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ) Ruderman Inclusion Action Community, a new leadership initiative that gives people with disabilities and their families the opportunity to participate comfortably in thriving congregational life.
“We are excited to participate in this new opportunity to continue building on our strong core belief of inclusion and accessibility for all who wish to experience our mission-focused, purpose-driven synagogue community,” says Emanuel President Ira Henowitz. “We very much appreciate United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism for launching this initiative and we thank the Ruderman Family Foundation for providing the generous grant to make this all possible.”
In keeping with the grant, USCJ will work with the West Hartford congregation to develop a comprehensive vision and action plan on greater inclusion. Emanuel congregant Nancy Fichman, an educator and an advocate for people with special needs, will serve as the lead liaison for the community planning and training.
Emanuel’s goal is to create a fully accessible synagogue in which all aspects of congregational life – including facility, interactive educational programs, participatory prayer services, social activities, and even the attitudes of congregants – are geared to allowing people with disabilities and their families to fully engage in a welcoming, caring and inspiring sacred Jewish community.
“The Inclusion initiative will help us continue to grow and improve as a highly inclusive kehillah [congregation],” says Rabbi David Small, spiritual leader of Emanuel Synagogue. “Our commitment to make the Emanuel an open and engaging place for all people is very strong and has been for many years. We believe in Kevod HaBeriot, upholding the honor and dignity of all people and the recognition that each of us is created in the Divine Image. That awareness is the foundation of our community standards and our personal relationships.”