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Matan A. Koch

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Man scribbling the words Americans with Disabilities Act onto glass

I am a lawyer. I graduated Harvard law school and have practiced law for major corporations and large law firms. It shouldn’t, therefore, have been much of a challenge when the Union for Reform Judaism’s Inclusion Working Group asked if I would give a talk about the law of disability discrimination and accommodation.

When I protested, having never practiced ADA law or its application to religious organization, I was gently reminded that I was not being asked to provide legal advice. Rather, I was being asked to look at the law and take lessons from it for people trying to develop...

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As a young child with an anxiety disorder, I found the Unetaneh Tokef and surrounding liturgy so disturbing that I had to leave. As a young child in a wheelchair, I waited in an empty shul while everyone ran to the river to do Tashlich. Even though, for me, getting into the synagogue was easy, it was getting some awe that was difficult.

What does it mean to be included in the Days of Awe? Most of our synagogues have a plan. When a wheelchair user approaches the building, they are directed to seats that have been set aside. A worshiper who is hard of hearing is directed to an...

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