On Yom Kippur, we celebrate the power of teshuva, and push ourselves to face up to sins that we might otherwise be tempted to sweep under the rug.
Our work towards inclusive Jewish education is a process of teshuva. We talk about inclusion because exclusion has long been the norm. We have sinned by cutting Jews with disabilities off from Jewish education and Jewish community, and it has not profited us.
This Yom Kippur, we have a lot to celebrate. Many battles have been fought and won. Unprecedented numbers of Jews with disabilities have access to Jewish community and Jewish education. We have done some significant teshuva. We must celebrate this teshuva, and we must not stop there.
This Yom Kippur, we must also address the unfinished work of inclusion. The sins of exclusion are complicated, and this teshuva is a long-term process. The Yom Kippur liturgy is a powerful tool for this work. Our illustrated PDF on “Inclusive Education as Teshuva” outlines a way to bring the work of inclusive education into your Yom Kippur prayers.
Ruti Regan has served as Matan’s Rabbinic Disability Scholar in Residence since 2016. In this capacity, Rabbi Regan researches Jewish disability issues, and creates resources that enable Jewish educators to solve problems. Rabbi Regan has developed innovative experiential professional training sessions for educators, liturgical resources for use in direct instruction, resources for teaching Jewish children about disability, curricular resources, and public webinars advancing the Jewish disability conversation.
Rabbi Regan approaches inclusive Jewish education as a pedagogical content knowledge problem. In order to create an effective Jewish conversation, Jewish educators need to understand how the world looks to their students with and without disabilities — and which methods are and aren’t effective. Rabbi Regan brings expertise from her rabbinic studies, her collaborations with other professionals, her research, and her work as a disabled disability advocate. Rabbi Regan seeks out the silos disability knowledge is created in, and applies what she learns to Jewish educational content.
Rabbi Regan also serves Anachnu, the Jewish organization for disability-informed Torah and inclusive community. In that role, she creates disability-informed spiritual leadership training for Jewish clergy, writes disability-informed commentary on Torah and liturgy, and leads a weekly Twitter-based parsha discussion group. She is a sought out speaker and trainer. In addition to her work with educators, Rabbi Regan has taught disabled disability advocates, medical professionals, rabbis, cantors, interfaith groups, and at congregations across the country.
Rabbi Regan was ordained by JTS in 2017, with an MA in Liturgy and Ritual Arts. She is a member of the Rabbinical Assembly Disability Inclusion Committee. Before JTS, Rabbi Regan studied in the Drisha Institute Scholar’s Circle, and at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of NYJW or its parent company, 70 Faces Media.