A drawing of 5 people of different races, ages, and abilities holding hands

Inclusion at Temple Micah

The author smiling outside on a sunny day

Hannah Ruth Wellons

If you don’t think you know someone with a disability, then let me remedy that with a quick introduction: Hi! I’m Hannah Ruth. I work at Temple Micah. I have multiple disabilities.

In fact, 61 million adults, or 26% of the adult population, in America have a disability. According to the UN, disabled people are the largest “minority group” in the world. As stated in a survey run by RespectAbility in October 2021 on Jewish faith and inclusion, almost 28% of surveyed Jews have a disability, and over 50% of them know someone with a disability.

If you didn’t before, now you know someone too!

Our Commitment to Inclusion and Action

I was drawn to work at Temple Micah for a variety of reasons, one of them being Micah’s commitment to inclusion and action. Part of Temple Micah’s mission is to create sacred spaces where you can bring your whole self and be your best self. Micah practices a hopeful, inclusive Judaism and is committed to living out that mission in every facet possible, including in the area of inclusion of disabled people.

Here are some of the ways that Micah does inclusion:

  • We have livestreamed our Shabbat services since 2014, but with the pandemic, we have made our digital offerings more robust.
  • We include Closed Captioning on all of our streamed Shabbat services. 
  • We have large print service sheets and a digital siddur available for those that need them. 
  • The bimah table in our sanctuary can be raised and lowered based on the speaker’s height; one of the presets is for a speaker in a wheelchair. 
  • The “quiet room” in our building provides a safe space for those who may find themselves overstimulated by the sanctuary to still see, hear, and participate as they wish.
  • Our Fair Share Pledge system is an effort towards financial equitability. Members pay 2% of their income, or an amount they deem appropriate for them, not a flat, equal rate. This financial equitability is disability inclusion as well. 
  • It hardly seems radical, but ADA compliance is not imposed on religious institutions, so technically Micah doesn’t need to have an elevator or ramp. But we do.

“You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.” — Pirkei Avot 2:21

We won’t fix ableism and discrimination through our policies and practices at Micah, but we can certainly do our best to model the world to come and keep improving our sacred spaces as best we can. Micah staff and clergy are actively working towards a more inclusionary worship and work experience. 

Continuing the Work

In the coming months, accessibility icons will be added to all of our event descriptions so that people who wish to attend these events are aware of what we can offer by way of accessibility. We are creating a sensory guide for our weekly Friday night and Saturday morning services, and performing a website audit to make sure that our website is fully accessible for those with screen readers and assistive technologies.

Finally, we are establishing a process so that if you or someone else needs accommodations that you don’t see offered, you can contact info@templemicah.org and the staff will work with you. 

Inclusion and accessibility are hallmarks of the Jewish experience. Pirkei Avot 2:5 says, “Do not separate yourself from the community.” Accordingly, we cannot stand idly by while someone else is forcibly separated from their community due to a lack of access or accommodations for their disability.

Temple Micah is actively striving to make our house “A house of prayer for all people” (Isaiah 56:5), and that will always include the disabled community. 

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