Geulat Yisrael synagogue Shenkin 311.
(photo credit: courtesy)
More than 60 percent of the nation’s synagogues are not accessible to people
with disabilities, according to a survey by Access Israel, released to coincide
with the holiday season.
Nine out of 10 synagogues have no way for the
disabled to get on the elevated bima, where the Torah is read, the organization
“It can’t be that thousands of people who want to fulfill their
desire to attend on the holidays are not able to do it, or they’re forced to do
so in inhuman conditions,” Access Israel director Yuval Wagner said in a
“This can’t be the situation in the State of Israel, a Jewish
state. And it can’t be that the elderly and the handicapped people can’t pray in
About 1.5 million Israelis are disabled, according to the
Commission for Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
293,000 seriously disabled and 491,000 moderately disabled. Women account for
56% of the disabled.
In synagogues, women’s sections are often located on
the second floor, making access even more difficult.
that are located in the back of synagogues or on the second floor also make it
more difficult for women who are hard of hearing.
Access Israel sent the
results of the survey to Interior Minister Eli Yishai and Religious Services
Minister Ya’acov Margi, appealing for additional funding over the next few years
to make synagogues more accessible.
The organization surveyed synagogues
in 15 cities, including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ra’anana, Bat Yam, Kfar
Modi’in. They evaluated 40 synagogues based on the amount of handicapped
spots, access to the front door, access to the bima, and access to the
Based on these criteria, 64% of synagogues were not accessible,
28.5% were partially accessible, and only 7.5% were fully accessible.