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Iris Wechsler; Advocate for Disabled

March 22, 1997

Iris Wechsler, 65, who worked to help people with various physical and mental disabilities. A former home economics teacher, Wechsler became interested in the disabled in the late 1950s when her young daughter was found to have mental retardation, cerebral palsy, epilepsy and brain damage. With protest meetings, demonstrations and letter-writing campaigns, she became a strong lobbyist in Sacramento for civil rights for the disabled. In her later years, she concentrated on helping disabled members of the Jewish community at Temple Beth Hillel. Wechsler became the first successful leader of the Moses Program of Temple Beth Hillel, which attempts to bring disabled members into synagogue services and activities. Named for the biblical Moses, who is said to have had a speech impediment, the organization and Wechsler have won several national awards for staging Seders and other special events for the mentally and physically disabled. On Tuesday in Burbank of lung cancer.

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