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Yad Sarah: Halacha says synagogues should be accessible
ByJUDY SIEGEL
September 25, 2011 23:09
Printed information on solutions for disabled to reach the raised bima as well as other synagogue facilities, is being distributed to synagogues.
Members of Jerusalem municipality

People in wheelchair 311. (photo credit:Melanie Lidman)

Yad Sarah called on the heads of synagogues to make their places of worship accessible to physically disabled people who have difficulty reaching seats so they can participate in prayers.

This is especially important during the High Holidays, the voluntary organization said on Sunday.



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Printed information on how to make synagogues accessible, as well as solutions for the disabled to reach the raised bima, or altar, for being called to the Torah, as well as other synagogue facilities, is being provided by Yad Sarah to synagogues.

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Social justice for people with disabilities

A collection of halachic rulings related to people who have functional problems is also provided.

New synagogues are required by law to be accessible to the disabled, but older ones can make changes without much money or effort to retrofit changes as well, the organization said. Handrails, railings, ramps and printing prayer books in large print can all be provided.

It is not doing the disabled a favor, said Yad Sarah, but meeting a basic obligation for the whole community.

“Maimonides wrote that the Hebrew word for charity [tzedaka] comes from the word for justice [tzedek]. Justice is to meet the needs of everyone who has a right and give him what he deserves. There is no doubt that it is the right of every Jew to get to a synagogue and pray,” said Moshe Cohen, director of branches and services at Yad Sarah.
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