Rabbi Tuchman Talks Ableism


Rabbi Lauren Tuchman, spiritual leader and educator, presented a Zoom session for NCJW/CLE. Rabbi Tuchman is, as far as she is aware, the first blind woman in the world to enter the rabbinate. She provides consulting to individuals and organizations across the Jewish community on a variety of matters pertinent to disability access, inclusion and ableism.

At its heart, ableism is rooted in the assumption that disabled people require “fixing” and defines people by their disability.

“Somehow, people think that people with disabilities are something new — but people with disabilities have existed as long as human beings have existed, and they always will,” Tuchman says.

Tuchman offered a new paradigm for understanding that it is important to include all individuals within our sacred spaces. She spoke of her feelings of being an outsider and wanting desperately to be part of her religious community, like others who feel this way for many reasons.

“Representation is important,” she says. “Though we are each the experts on our own disability experiences alone and must never claim to speak for or on behalf of others, having folks with disabilities in leadership positions sends a message that people with disabilities are wanted as part of the fabric that binds communities together, instead of being seen as a burdensome afterthought.”

For more information, visit rabbituchman.com