10 March 2023
Like thousands of others in our community and around the world, I’ve spent this week thinking about Judy Heumann, z”l, a trailblazer of the disability rights movement. For more than 50 years, until her passing on March 4th, Judy tirelessly advocated for those with disabilities in Jewish Greater Washington and far, far beyond.
Judy was the epitome of a community builder, from her national and international impact to her unmatched ability to change, affect, and encourage individuals within and outside of the disability community.
In a Facebook tribute, Rabbi Lauren Tuchman reflected on Judy’s influence and support. “The last time we spoke, she told me that not only was she proud of me and my work, but it meant so much to her that there are rabbis with disabilities teaching in disability-affirming ways.”
Judy’s lifelong dedication truly elevated all of us. Her impact will be felt for generations, helping to ensure that everyone who seeks to be part of a community has somewhere to turn, feels that they belong, and has both a seat at the table and a role in shaping our collective future.
As Rebecca Cokley, program officer for the US Disability Rights program at the Ford Foundation, wrote on CNN, Judy’s life is a testament and a reminder of where we’ve been, and where we need to go.
I, and all of us at Federation, extend our deepest condolences to Judy’s family, friends, colleagues, fellow Adas Israel congregants, and countless admirers.
May her memory continue to be for a blessing, and may we all aspire to be more like Judy.