Feeling moved can send us to the wrong place.

One of my research interests is how to make Jewish ritual life more dignified and respectful of people who have been left out, especially Jews with disabilities, Jewish women, and LGBTQ Jews.

Ritual change is very difficult, even when everyone involved means well. One thing it's important to keep in mind is that feeling moved by a ritual is not the same as treating all participants in a ritual as fully human.

In fact, feeling moved can be a problem. Sometimes when communities attempt to include people who have been marginalized, the attempt feels like pretending. Then the already valued members of the community feel moved by their willingness to pretend that the devalued people are equally valuable.

This feeling of being moved makes it harder to develop the visceral sense the everyone involved is *actually* equal. Equality is the truth, but we can be moved by counterproductive ritual into feeling that it is a lie.

This is a very easy mistake to make, and it can be hard to detect. One thing that can help is to be a bit suspicious of the feeling of being moved. When we feel moved, we should ask: Where did I go? Is this where I want us to end up? And what's next?

ACTION ALERT: Protect the religious freedom of Jews with disabilities.

The "Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017" (formerly known as the American Health Care Act) before the Senate proposes catastrophic cuts to Medicaid. These cuts would endanger all Americans, and would have particularly serious consequences for Jews and other minority groups.

For Jews with disabilities and chronic health conditions, religious freedom depends on Medicaid. 

Medicaid funding is the reason that people with disabilities are no longer routinely institutionalized and isolated. Home and Community Based Services provided by Medicaid allow people with disabilities and medical conditions to live in their own homes rather than nursing homes and institutions. When people are institutionalized, they lose control of their lives. When Jews are institutionalized, they lose their religious freedom. They are no longer able to control their Jewish practices and participate in the Jewish communities and organizations of their choice. 

The catastrophic cuts to Medicaid before the Senate would deprive our people of their freedom to be Jews and shape their Jewish lives. It is also a matter of life and death. We need all of our people. We must oppose these cuts.  

Call your senators. If you're not sure of their contact information, you can go to https://www.contactingcongress.org/, or call the Senate Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. 

Here is a script that rabbis, cantors, and other Jewish leaders can use:

"My name is ([Rabbi/Cantor/Hazzan/any other title you may have]) [your full name]. I’m a constituent of Senator [Name], and I live in [your town]. I serve [Congregation/school/organization name, and brief description]. I’m calling to ask the Senator to reject any health care proposal that would convert Medicaid funding to block grants, impose per capita caps, or take health insurance away from people in our state. Per capita caps and block grants would shift the cost of Medicaid to the states, and the states would not not be able to make up the shortfall. States would be forced to deprive their most vulnerable citizens of healthcare–all to fund a massive tax break for the wealthiest Americans.

Jews with disabilities would end up institutionalized, separated from their communities, and deprived of religious liberty. People with disabilities like [me/ my family member/ my friends/my congregants/my students/those I serve] are not disposable, and our religious freedom must not be compromised. 

[If you have one, tell a story about the importance of Medicaid/health care/etc to those you serve. Given the wide range of people served by vital Medicaid programs, you almost certainly have congregants who would be affected-think about what the stories are. For instance, these are all common situations:

"I have a congregant who was injured and lost his job and his insurance. Medicaid made it possible for him to get rehabilitation and the wheelchair he needed and eventually return to working. As a [rabbi/cantor/etc], I know that life-altering injuries can happen to anyone, and I hate to think of congregants losing access to Jewish community on top of that. Please protect Medicaid so that those who are injured in the future can stay in their communities.". 

"A girl in my community who has complex medical needs recently had her bat mitzvah. Without Medicaid home and community based services, she likely would have been institutionalized and separated from the community as a baby. If per capita caps are imposed, that could still happen to her".

"Jews with disabilities receiving home and community based services attend my synagogue. Cuts to Medicaid would deprive them of this support and separate them from the community. Without Medicaid, many of those I serve would have no religious freedom.")].

Please vote AGAINST the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017. We’re counting on you to do the right thing."

For more information on this issue, and additional actions you can take, check out the Autistic Self Advocacy Network's action alert, Plain Language Guide to the Affordable Care Act, and Plain Language Guide to Medicaid