Currently, there are inadequate programs and services for adults with disabilities in both the Jewish community and in greater Los Angeles.The Jewish Community in Los Angeles has made significant strides in the last several years to provide information and resources to support Jews with disabilities and their families. Organizations and programs like HaMercaz, The Friendship Circle, Our Space, Etta/Ohel, Nes Gadol at Vista Del Mar, and others raise awareness, provide services, and help Jewish individuals and families understand how to overcome barriers to facilitate their meaningful participation and involvement in the Jewish community. However, this is only the beginning.
Approximately four out of five individuals with disabilities are either unemployed or under-employed, and they experience poverty at a rate twice that of the general population. Not because they cannot work, they are denied the opportunity to work at jobs they are qualified to do. This is morally intolerable. As Jews, we are taught to address civil rights issues like these head on, “If there be among you a person with needs, you shall not harden your heart, but you shall surely open your hand.” (Deuteronomy 15:7)
The Jewish community must realize that Jews with disabilities are a minority within a minority. The Talmud teaches us that, “All of Israel is responsible for one another” (Shavuot 39a), It is our responsibility to not only educate and train Jews of all abilities, but also look beyond by creating jobs and supporting businesses that provide people of all abilities with the opportunity to be gainfully employed to achieve greater levels of independence.
A job is important for people with disabilities for the same reason it’s important to those who are not as severely impacted by their life circumstances. Inherently Jewish at her core, ROSIE’S is designed to provide opportunities for currently dependent adults with disabilities to own businesses and/or work alongside people dedicated to removing obstacles that prevent those adults from obtaining and retaining meaningful employment. According to the leading American Jewish philanthropist supporting individuals with disabilities Jay Ruderman, “Such training efforts are crucial, but unless the jobs are made available, frustration – and a tragic waste of human potential – is inevitable.”
Together we can build a more inclusive and self-sufficient Jewish community in Los Angeles and beyond by supporting ROSIE’S ventures, our employees, and our dedicated staff and volunteers who strive every day to learn from our sages by recognizing, “It is not up to you to complete the work, yet you are not free to desist from it” (Pirkei Avot 2:21).