Reform Movement Co-Sponsors National Forum on Disability Issues, Asks the Important Questions
Judaism likes answers. You’ve probably heard that joke: ask six Jews their opinion about a subject and you’ll get seven responses. But what Judaism really likes is questions. All you need to do is look at the Passover seder. Ask a child what their favorite part of the seder is, and you’ll have the melody of “ma nishtanah” (what’s different) stuck in your head for the rest of the week. We don’t call this section the “Four Answers” – we call it the “Four Questions.” Each year, the focus of the seder is on the telling of the Exodus story. We hear even more questions in telling the story, this time from the proverbial four sons. If the story is so important, why then do we remember the sons so vividly? The sons prompt the telling of the story, and although the sons stay the same year after year, the haggadah allows us to tailor the story—the answer—to what suits our seder that particular year. The questions endure much longer, for in questioning we learn both the answer (from the wise child) and even what we do not know (from the youngest, unable to speak).
Last week, the RAC asked questions for you. The Union for Reform Judaism co-sponsored the National Forum on Disability Issues, a conference in Ohio that brought together political candidates under one roof to hone in on the issues facing the disability community. And that community includes a lot more of us than you may think—1 in 4 veterans has a disability, as do 1 in 3 seniors, and 66 million Americans are caregivers. This is not an isolated group with unequal rights that we can ignore.
As Ted Kennedy, Jr., speaking on behalf of President Obama at the Forum, said, this is a “civil rights struggle.” On this front Governor Romney’s representative, Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, agreed. She saw people with disabilities as not just people that need to be taken care of, but an “untapped pool of talent” that in whom we must invest. Both speakers also agreed on the centrality of Medicaid, but differed in their future visions of whom the program would serve. The Romney campaign cautioned against its expansion so as not to overload the system, while the Obama plan offered incentives to expand Medicaid federally and in the states.
Passover teaches us that even once we get answers, we must keep asking questions. One question is not enough for the proverbial “Four Children.” Each child must ask his or her own question, just as we must each ask the questions that matter to us. Have you gotten a chance to ask any questions lately?
Photo courtesy of National Forum on Disability Issues.