Jewish tradition says that when G-d gave us the 10 commandments and the Torah at Sinai, ALL the Jews were present – including Jews with disabilities. This is key because it showed that when it comes to prayer and a relationship with our faith, all are equal.
Ben Rosloff, a talented filmmaker on the Autism spectrum who serves as a Jewish Inclusion Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program, created an unprecedented mini-series of one-on-one interviews with Jews with disabilities. The series features deep insights and fabulous emotion as people answer the very personal question, “What do you pray for?”
“What Do You Pray For?” is a series of short interviews of Jews with disabilities who tell viewers in their own words what they pray for and what prayer means to them. The project features Jews with various disabilities from across the United States, with a myriad of different connections to their Jewish identity.
The series focuses on the universal nature and themes of prayer, as well as the hopes and dreams of people with disabilities. The interviews reveal the need for inclusion and a connection to the community. All interviewees provided valuable insights on their disability experience, understanding it to be an integral part of themselves, presenting challenges and opportunities.
The series was conceived during the rise of COVID-19 as synagogues were closed and people were in quarantine. Filming began in late 2020 via Zoom and was completed in early April 2021. All of them are currently on YouTube and the RespectAbility website and Jewish Inclusion Facebook. They are being featured weekly in RespectAbility’s newsletter, “Jewish Disability Perspectives,” which also features perspectives, insights, and important disability inclusion events from across the Jewish world.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to use my talent to share these insights from talented Jews with disabilities,” says Rosloff. “I look forward to more professional opportunities to continue telling people stories as a video producer, editor, and filmmaker.”
Many of the people in the film series are a part of RespectAbility’s Jewish Disability Speakers Bureau and are available to speak via Zoom to groups about disability topics and inclusion.
Matan Koch, Director of Jewish Leadership at RespectAbility says, “I was truly gratified when Ben Rosloff took the initiative to offer this wonderful idea. I hope that this insight into the thoughts and dreams of individuals with disabilities will highlight that we are talented members of the Jewish community, just like anyone else.”
Rosloff is part of RespectAbility’s Jewish inclusion team, fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so that Jews with disabilities can contribute their talents to the Jewish world, just as he did here. Rosloff, who is active in Jewish life and has been to Israel, grew up in Great Neck, NY and earned a BFA in Electronic Media from Long Island University. He has produced films for a variety of organizations, including his documentary short “Can I Call You?!” screened in the United States and Russia during an internship with Downtown Community Television Center. Rosloff also has co-produced, edited and screened multiple films for the United Nations. These include a film for World Autism Awareness Day, where Rosloff interviewed then-Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon, as well as “#Envision 2030” for Disability Awareness Day.
The individuals featured in the “What Do You Pray For” series include:
– Erika Abbott: Writer / Award-Winning Poet
– Justin Borses: Former College Student and employee at Moorpark College
– Lee Chernotsky: Founder and CEO, ROSIES Foundation
– Samantha Elisofon: Award-Winning Actress (“Keep the Change”) and member of EPIC Players, A Neuro-inclusive Theater Company in Brooklyn
– Alex Howard: Entertainment Media and Jewish Inclusion Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program
– Matan Koch: Director of RespectAbility California and Jewish Leadership
– Amy Rosenfeld-Kass: Teacher from The Saul and Carole Zabar Nursery School at the JCC –
– Ben Rosloff: Communications and Jewish Inclusion Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program
– Rachel Rothstein: 4th year Rabbinical Student at the Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion
– Barry Shore: Ambassador of Joy and Successful Serial Entrepreneur
Ari Sloan: Member of EPIC Players who is living with Autism
– Joshua Steinberg: Program Associate for RespectAbility California and Jewish Leadership
– Brendan Stern: Assistant Professor of American politics and the Executive Director of the Center for Democracy in Deaf America at Gallaudet University
– Rabbi Lauren Tuchman: Rabbi, Public Speaker, Spiritual Leader and Educator
– Blair Webb: System Change Youth Advocate at MEET THE BIZ and former Jewish Inclusion Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program
– Aaron Wolf: Co-founder of Howling Wolf Productions and Award-winning Actor, Director, Speaker, and Activist
Rosloff currently is looking for a job in video production and/or editing. His LinkedIn is https://www.linkedin.com/in/benjamin-rosloff-95324011a. You can reach him via Benjamin.Rosloff@gmail.com. You can find links to each of the pieces here: https://www.respectability.org/2021/04/what-do-you-pray-for-launched