Mar 11, 2019

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 26, 2019 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.

Emily Grabelsky, Chair of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County (JFSPBC) Special Needs Initiative as well as Co-Chair of the Jewish Federation of North America’s National Disability Committee, opened the program before the crowd in the Rayburn House Office Building.

Grabelsky was joined in the Southeast Florida delegation by Janet Elinoff, Chair of the JFSPBC Special Needs Initiative Family Support Workgroup, and a JARC Florida Board Vice President; Scott Ehrlich, CEO at David Posnack JCC in Davie; Jeff Zirulnick, COO of JARC Florida; Jaclyn Tureff, School Outreach Coordinator with Ruth & Norman Jewish Family Services; and Jessica Hirsh, JFSPBC Program Associate in Community Planning and the Jewish Community Relations Council.

The advocates’ full day included presentations from Johnny Collett, Assistant Secretary of Special Education & Rehabilitative Services in the U.S. Department of Education; leaders from advocacy organizations including Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. The group then prepared to advocate with their elected representatives on two important pieces of legislation:

  • The EMPOWER Care Act, HR1342, which would authorize the Money Follows the Person, a Medicaid demonstration which helps people living with disabilities to cover the costs associated with transitioning from an institution to their private residence; and
  • The Able Age Adjustment Act, which would allow people with disabilities to save money without endangering their eligibility for benefits, providing them with the opportunity to become financially independent.

The South Palm Beach County/Broward delegation then visited the offices of Members of Congress Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel and Debbie Wasserman Schultz to urge their support of the bills. Together, the delegations from 20 states engaged in 50 meetings with their U.S. Representatives.

The delegation found their time in Washington extremely valuable.

“It was a privilege to represent the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County at this national meeting,” said Emily 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.”

“It was an honor to attend the advocacy day and represent the David Posnack JCC to lobby for those with disabilities on behalf of our Giborim Special Needs Program,” said Scott Ehrlich.

“The JDAD event allowed the opportunity to connect with others committed to improving the lives of individuals with disabilities,” said Jeff Zirulnick. It provided the platform to make our legislators aware of the important pending legislation that impacts the community serving those individuals with disabilities.”