May 26, 2024
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Scholar-in-Residence Program at Ahavat Achim Features Rivka Herzfeld, Disability Rights Activist

(Courtesy of Ahavat Achim) Congregation Ahavat Achim of Fair Lawn recently hosted a scholar-in-residence program on the weekend of April 5-6, featuring Rivka Herzfeld, a passionate disability rights activist and the founder of PASHUT Solutions.

With the recent launch of PASHUT Solutions, Herzfeld is seeking to enhance accessibility in various Jewish settings, including synagogues, wedding venues, other communal spaces and at community events. Congregation Ahavat Achim welcomed Herzfeld for her scholar-in-residence debut to share her words of Torah, her personal experiences with accessibility challenges and ways that the greater Jewish community can be more mindful of these issues going forward.

Herzfeld spoke three times over the course of Shabbat, exploring instances throughout Tanach in which key biblical figures experience some sort of disability that is often overlooked in the grander narrative. She also highlighted the ways in which mitzvot like “Do not place a stumbling block before a blind person” could have meaning beyond their literal interpretation in today’s world with respect to individuals experiencing a variety of accessibility challenges.

Reflecting on the program, Herzfeld remarked, “I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to speak at the warm and engaging community of Ahavat Achim. I’m reminded of Parshat Yitro, which tells the story of the giving of the Torah followed by an allusion to matters of accessibility with the commandment to not build steps up to Hashem’s altar. Similarly, Ahavat Achim truly embodies the way that Torah observance can blend together with heightened sensitivity toward accessibility issues.”

Rabbi Ely Shestack commented, “Rivka’s passion for teaching Torah and her tenaciousness towards advocacy is a combination that will, be’ezrat Hashem, enable her goals of making the Jewish community a more sensitive and accessible community come to fruition. It was an honor for our kehilla to be the first stop on what will hopefully be a meaningful tour de force that brings her message to the broader Jewish community.”

To contact Rivka Herzfeld or to learn more about PASHUT Solutions, please visit pashutsolutions.com.

To learn more about Congregation Ahavat Achim, please visit ahavatachim.org. To learn more about Congregation Ahavat Achim’s upcoming Prospective Family Shabbaton, please reach out to [email protected].

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