Join attorney Matan Koch, the featured speaker, in an event marking Jewish Disability Awareness Month. This free talk will take place at Hevreh of Southern Berkshire, and is co-sponsored by the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires.
The Jewish community often describes itself as a big tent in which all are welcome. With February designated as Jewish Disability Awareness Month, this Jewish community has the opportunity to consider how good it is at really making sure that all its members are counted equally. All are invited to learn from Matan Koch, a Jewish leader who is working to ignite a fire for disability inclusion in the broader Jewish community. Leaders at Hevreh and the Federation hope this will be the beginning of a new conversation for our community about how we can work to make sure those with disabilities are represented.
Born with cerebral palsy, Koch has extensive involvement in the disability community. He served as vice chairman of the New Haven Commission on Disabilities, where he chaired the Americans with Disabilities Act Subcommittee from 2001-2002. Koch currently serves on the Union for Reform Judaism-Department of Jewish Family Concerns' Disability Task Force Special Needs Camping Committee.
While working in the legal division of Procter & Gamble, he was active in P&G's People with Disabilities Network. Mr. Koch served on the board of Jewish Vocational Services of Cincinnati. Koch began Yale at 16 years of age and became a lawyer, with a degree from Harvard Law School, by age 23. He also earned a B.A. in Religious Studies from Yale, where he was president of the Student Disability Community.
Koch writes: “One of the greatest mitzvot enjoined upon us is to enable the Jewish lives of our fellow Jews, from celebrating births and weddings to joining together to bury and mourn our dead. Yet, by failing to eliminate physical, spiritual, and attitudinal barriers, our community is often still closed to the participation of Jews with disabilities
“More than kindness or even obligation, however, this participation benefits us all by enriching our community. True participation may involve ramps, listening devices, and braille siddurim, but it starts with a collective passion to tear down the physical, emotional, and spiritual barriers that stand between us.”