Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month is Here!

Inside Leadership

Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month is Here!

Glowing green ACCESSIBILITY key on a white keyboard

Jewish Disabilities Awareness and Inclusion Month (JDAIM) is here, and the number of communities and organizations around the world that participate in this awareness effort is growing! I’m excited to share some new resources with you.

  • Get ready: Download the 2017 Program Guide and JDAIM branding.
  • Be an ally: As JDAIM starts, visit for “Five Ways to Be an Ally to People with Disabilities.”
  • Read up: As part of JDAIM Reads, authors Liane Kupferberg Carter and Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer sat down with me to chat about their respective books. Share this webchat with your book club as part of your discussion or to introduce these great books to your organization. You can also download discussion guides on the JDAIM Reads page.
  • Watch a film: The team at My Hero Brother, JDAIM’s first featured film, created a special video introduction and post screening Q&A where director Yonaton Nir and MHB co-founder Enosh Cassel answer our questions about the film. JDAIM screenings are set for cities across North American with more communities being added. My Hero Brother was also accepted to the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and ReelAbilities.
  • Start advocating: Advocacy is a vital part of JDAIM. On February 2nd, Jewish advocates from across the U.S. will convene in Washington, D.C., to learn about priority issues and policies affecting people with disabilities and their families. The Canadian Jewish community will convene in Ottawa on February 21st for its first Jewish Disability Advocacy Day.
  • Buy for good: Employment is a key factor in empowering people with disabilities. Israeli social impact entrepreneur Yuval Arbel created Buy For Good after completing Acceleration Inclusion in Israel (A3i) in Ra’anana, described as “the first leading assistive technology accelerator worldwide.” A3i, dedicated to ventures that improve quality of life for people with disabilities, is supported by PresenTense, Beit Issie Shapiro, The Ruderman Family Foundation, and The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.

Join hundreds of organizations around the world for #JDAIM17! Show your support and commitment to ensuring that all Jewish organizations encourage participation by all people who want to be a part of the community. 

And in the months that follow, support people with disabilities to belong. Isn’t that, after all, what we all really want?

February is Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month (JDAIM), a unified initiative to raise disability awareness and support efforts to foster inclusion in Jewish communities worldwide. The Union for Reform Judaism is proud to partner with the Ruderman Family Foundation to ensure full inclusion and participation of people with disabilities and their families in every aspect of Reform Jewish life. Visit the Disabilities Inclusion Learning Center to learn more.

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Shelly Christensen, MA, literally wrote the books on inclusion of people with disabilities: her new book, From Longing to Belonging: A Practical Guide to Including People with Disabilities in Faith Communities and Jewish Community Guide to Inclusion of People with Disabilities. A popular speaker and leader in the field of disability inclusion and spirituality, Shelly co-founded Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month (JDAIM) in 2009 and serves as its organizer. She also co-founded the Jewish Leadership Institute on Disabilities and Inclusion at the University of Delaware. 

Shelly has co-chaired Union for Reform Judaism disability committees and presented at numerous URJ Biennials, as well as conferences of both Jewish and disability organizations. She directed the award-winning innovative Jewish Community Inclusion Program for People with Disabilities in Minneapolis for 13 years. She is immediate past president of the Religion and Spirituality Division of AAIDD and is recognized as a fellow for her work in the disability field.

Her writing is featured in numerous blogs and articles, and she is currently co-authoring a children’s book about Jewish inclusion. Shelly and her husband Rick are parents of three adult sons, one of whom was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome.

Shelly Christensen, MA

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