Disability Awareness

Disability Awareness

Rather than planning separate programming for people with disabilities, take a look at what your community already offers and view it through an inclusive lens. Ask, “What can we do to make this more inclusive?”

Cantor Faryn Kates Rudnick
welcome written in sand on the beach

As Jews, we know all people are created in the image of God, but seeing that Divine presence doesn’t happen simply because we wish it to be so. It takes intentionality to view each person, regardless of his or her differences, as unique and holy.
 

Rabbi Edythe Held Mencher, L.C.S.W. and Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner

While I realize that this kind of work doesn’t come naturally to everyone, I often take my own efforts for granted. I believe deeply in inclusion, so I make it a priority. You can make inclusion a priority, too.

Lisa Friedman

Exemplar Congregations understand that education is a key component of successfully becoming an inclusive congregation, and they have begun the often-challenging process of igniting the cultural change necessary to bring clergy, lay leadership, and congregants on board.

Joseph D. Robbins

The new Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month Guide provides many resources and ideas to assist your congregation in programming, whether in your own organization or as community-wide initiatives.

Shelley Christensen

There’s a significant uptick of energy in the Jewish disability world right now.

Lisa Friedman

With the High Holidays just around the corner, Jews all over the world will be asking themselves how they can lead more meaningful and moral lives. Synagogue communities, too, will be asking themselves how they can become more holy and inclusive communities.

Jay Ruderman

A sweet new year begins with audacious hospitality, making sure everyone feels welcome in the Jewish community. As part of High Holiday preparation, congregations can take a number of simple steps to help create an accessible and sacred space for people of all abilities so that everyone can fully participate.

Rabbi Edythe Held Mencher, LCSW

The Reform Movement is exceptionally proud of Rabbi Lynne Landsberg, senior advisor on disabilities issues at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, who was recently presented with the Thornburgh Family Award in recognition of her years of service on behalf of people with disabilities. As the inaugural recipient of this award, Rabbi Landsberg was honored on July 26, 2015, the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In a letter read at the interfaith service at which she was honored, President Barack Obama wrote to Rabbi Landsberg,

Rabbi Rick Jacobs

by Shelly Christensen

“There comes a moment when you realize that what you’re advocating for is more than just accommodations. You’re really advocating for someone’s quality of life. That’s the moment you realize you won’t give up.” (Dyslexia Training Institute)

Sometimes Facebook produces surprises, like this quote I recently found while scrolling mindlessly through my news feed. These words, from the Dyslexia Training Institute, gave expression to the significance of the seventh annual Jewish Disability Awareness Month (JDAM) in February.

In 2009, the Jewish Special Education International Consortium held the first Jewish Disability Awareness Month in a handful of communities in the United States. Our intent was to elevate awareness that Jewish institutions were not providing meaningful Jewish experiences to Jews with disabilities. We saw JDAM as a way to come together to deliver a common message to our own community that there are indeed Jews who have disabilities, and many of them are invisible in Jewish life because of those disabilities.

Today, JDAM is recognized in Jewish communities across North America, as well as in Britain and Israel. The JDAM logo, a Magen David of intertwined blue and gold ribbons, illustrates how the inclusion of people who have disabilities must be woven into all aspects of Jewish life.