Sheri Denkensohn-Trott

Sheri Denkensohn-Trott

Inside Leadership
Man in a wheelchair at the bottom of a long flight of steps

Last summer marked the 29th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This monumental legislation effects the civil rights of individuals with disabilities and was groundbreaking when it was passed in 1990. Previous legislation, the Rehabilitation Act of 1978, required only the programs and activities of public institutions to be accessible to individuals with disabilities.

The ADA broadened coverage to include accessibility related to employment, public accommodations, and later, with an addition to the Rehabilitation Act, websites and other technology.


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Woman of color with palms open holding a pink ribbon representing breast cancer awareness

I am a breast cancer survivor of nine years. Before my diagnosis, I knew of individuals who had survived breast cancer. I also knew of women who had died of breast cancer. None was a family member.

Being diagnosed with any type of illness can be overwhelming. The terminology is complex, and the process from diagnosis to treatment generally moves slowly. With cancer, the process from diagnosis to treatment moves fairly fast, and the pace can be challenging because decisions often need to be made relatively quickly. Thankfully, my stage 1 cancer was detected early, had not spread to...

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The author and her husband at a breast cancer event

Throughout the Bible, Jews are referred to as the “chosen people.” There are many interpretations and debates about whether this nomenclature applies only to Jews, and if so, about the specific meaning of “chosen.” I believe all people are chosen to make a difference, and in that spirit, I am sharing my story as it relates to breast cancer.

I became a quadriplegic at age 16 and have dealt with many health challenges since then. Approximately nine years ago, I developed significant pressure sores that required surgery. Although the surgery was successful, I had serious complications...

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Closeup of a woman's hands resting on a wooden pew

The celebration of the 10th anniversary of Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month (JDAIM) makes clear that the concept of inclusion is a fundamental tenet of the Reform Jewish community’s values. Indeed, the progress the Jewish community has made is to be commended – but it’s important to be consistent with a message of inclusion, and not to confuse the concepts of diversity and inclusion.

While many organizations, Jewish and otherwise, have worked to embrace diversity, inclusion is a different concept entirely. Diversity leads to the presence of underrepresented...

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Lit menorah in a window of thick, opaque glass

The story of Hanukkah, passed from generation to generation, is often referred to as the “Miracle of Lights.” As it is told, Judah leads his men, the Maccabees, in a fight against King Antiochus and his army to preserve Jewish tradition. Against all odds, the Maccabees achieved victory. Judah and the Maccabees then cleaned the Temple and lit a menorah, an oil-based lamp, expecting the oil to last only one day. Miraculously, it burned for eight days and eight nights.

When I was growing up, we had two kinds of menorahs: One, from Israel, used candles and was given to my father by my...

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