Feb 10, 2020

South Palm Beach Delegation Heads to DC for Jewish Disability Advocacy Day

South Palm Beach Delegation Heads to DC for Jewish Disability Advocacy Day

A committed delegation from South Palm Beach County and Broward joined hundreds of diverse Jewish advocates from across the country in Washington DC on February 4, 2020 to participate in Jewish Disability Advocacy Day (JDAD). The annual JDAD gathering on Capitol Hill is an important opportunity for advocates to learn from public policy experts, hear from members of Congress, and meet with their local representatives in support of timely pieces of legislation affecting people with disabilities.
 
As the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the 45th anniversary of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 2020 is an historic year for disability rights. This 10th annual JDAD highlighted these milestones as it looked to the road ahead.

Emily Grabelsky, Chair of the Jewish Federations of North America’s National Disability Committee, and who also led the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County (JFSPBC) Special Needs Initiative, presented Senator Tom Harkin with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in supporting people with disabilities. In 1990, Senator Harkin introduced into the Senate the groundbreaking Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which became law 30 years ago.
 
“It was a privilege to represent the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County at this national meeting,” said Grabelsky. “It is more important than ever to join forces and collaborate with Jewish communities throughout the United States and advocate for those with disabilities, both visible and invisible, who are in need of support, programs and services to live meaningful, fulfilling and independent lives. We must encourage self-advocacy as well as speak for those who are unable to speak for themselves. It was an extremely thought provoking, intellectually stimulating and inspiring day at our Capitol. I hope even more of our area’s advocates will join us next year.”
 
Joining Grabelsky in the South Palm Beach County delegation were Janet Elinoff, VP of Fund Development, Board of Directors, JARC; Jennifer Koenig, Chief Development Officer, JFSPBC; Tzippi Rosen, Special Needs Community Liaison, JFSPBC and Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services; Fallon Gechter, Director of Marketing and Special Events, JARC; and Jessica Hirsh, Program Associate, JFSPBC. Justin Kohlhagen, Program Director, Children’s Abilities Center, JAFCO and Jonathan S. Westin, Senior Director Health Initiatives, JFNA, accompanied them to the Hill, and Tami Lustig, Director of Life Planning for Persons with Disabilities at Alpert Jewish Family Services, also attended.
 
The advocates’ full day included: a symposium with leading analysts on disability and inclusion issues; awards given to disability rights champions; an advocacy briefing on issues to raise with Congress and training on how to be an effective advocate; lunch with Members of Congress; and advocacy visits with key policymakers on two key pieces of legislation:
 
• The Isaiah Baker and Margie Harris-Austin Act, which would allow care providers to sustain continuity of care even when their clients are hospitalized, preventing disruption and trauma for individuals with disabilities and improving health outcomes; and
 
• The Able Age Adjustment Act, which would allow people who become disabled later in life to save money without endangering their eligibility for benefits, providing them with the opportunity to become financially independent.
 
Following their briefing, the South Palm Beach County/Broward delegation visited the offices of Senator Rick Scott, and Members of Congress Ted Deutch, Brian Mast, Lois Frankel, and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz to urge their support of these  bills.