Disability Rights and Inclusion Project

The Jewish Law Institute has launched a project dedicated to promoting disability rights and awareness, within Jewish communities and beyond.  Components of the project will include both public events and scholarly publications.

The project commenced in the Spring of 2019, when the Jewish Law Institute and Touro Law Center hosted two lectures: Dr. Frances Victory presented "Understanding the Individualized Education Program – How School Teachers and Staff Can Help Parents Make the Best Choices for Their Child,” and Eileen Buckley, Esq., presented  "Legal Aspects of the Special Education Process." 

To view the lectures: 

The project continued in the 2019-2020 academic year, with two more presentations. The first presentation was from Solange Captan, Esq., Director of Tuition and Counsel for SINAI Schools, who presented “Best Practices & Special Education.” You can listen to this lecture.

The second presentation, "Neurodiversity in the Torah," was given by Professor Samuel J. Levine, Director of the Jewish Law Institute, in conversation with Dr. Ian Hale, author of Asperger's, Autism & You.

To view the lecture:

In September 2020, The Jewish Law Institute hosted a conference, "Jewish Law in Comparative Context." As part of that Conference, Rabbi Michael Levy, President of Yad HaChazakah - The Jewish Disability Empowerment Center, and Professor Stephen Mark Shore, an internationally renowned speaker on autism gave presentations.

Rabbi Michael Levy's lecture:
"Disability Access and Acceptance: The Intersection Between Torah and American Justice"

Stephen Mark Shore's lecture: 
"The 4 A's of Autism: Awareness, Acceptance, Appreciation, and Action as a Pathway to a Fulfilling and Productive Life"

In May 2021, Touro College and the Jewish Law Institute presented an online panel exploring the topic: "Autism: Disability or Difference? The Past, Present and Future of Neurodiversity."  Speakers included: Dr. Alan Kadish, President, Touro College and University System; John Elder Robison, Neurodiversity Scholar, College of William & Mary and New York Times bestselling author of Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's; Shira Ruderman, Executive Director, Ruderman Family Foundation; and Professor Levine.

In October 2021, Touro College and the Jewish Law Institute presented An Evening with Temple Grandin, on the topic: "Autism Advocacy: A Life's Work." The event was moderated by Dr. Alan Kadish, President, Touro College and University System, and Professor Levine.

In November 2021, Touro Law's Jewish Programs Committee and the Jewish Law Institute hosted a discussion of Professor Levine's book, Was Yosef on the Spectrum? The discussion featured John Elder Robison in conversation with Professor Levine.


On May 1, 2022, Touro University hosted the 50th Anniversary Conference, "Perspectives on Individual Autonomy and Community Responsibility." As part of the conference proceeding, Professor Levine made a presentation on the topic of "Communal Responsibilities Toward Individuals with Disabilities."

On May 18, 2022, Touro University and the Jewish Law Institute presented an online panel exploring the topic: "Autism, Disability and Employment: An International Conversation." Speakers included: Dr. Alan Kadish, President, Touro University; Tim Goldstein, Global Cloud Trainer, Google; Hardeep Rai, Group CEO & Founder, Kaleidoscope Group/Kaleidoscope Investments; Dr. Michael Stein, Executive Director, Harvard Law School Project on Disability; Elisabeth Wiklander, Cellist, London Philharmonic Orchestra; and Professor Levine.

In addition, the Jewish Law Institute co-sponsored a special Symposium Issue of the Touro Law Review on the subject of "Current Issues in Disability Rights Law."  The issue includes articles by leading scholars and advocates of disability rights from across the United States. 

To read the Symposium Issue, click the image below.

Touro Law Review Cover

In connection with the project, Professor Levine recently published a book exploring the biblical character Joseph: Was Yosef on the Spectrum? Understanding Joseph Through Torah, Midrash, and Classical Jewish Sources. Click the image below to purchase the book.

Yousef Book Cover

Read reviews of Professor Levine's book in The Jewish Week, The Jewish TelegraphThe Canadian Journal of Disability Studies, The Israel Journal of Psychiatry, and the Touro Law Review by John Elder Robison, Nathan Weissler, Ian Hale, Ph.D., and Stephen A. Rosenbaum.

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