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Celebrating Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month 2016

Celebrating Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month 2016

JDAIM 2016 official logo

 

This February, Jewish communities across North America will celebrate Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month (JDAIM). During the month, we will come together to raise awareness and support efforts that foster inclusion of people with disabilities and their families in all aspects of Jewish life. In the past, February was known as Jewish Disability Advocacy Month, but “inclusion” was added this year to emphasize that we must together to ensure the full inclusion for all who come to worship, learn, celebrate, and participate in our spaces.

Here are just a few ways you can get involved with JDAIM 2016:

 

  • Download the JDAIM 2016 Guide. Inclusion Innovations has put together an excellent guide which explains the history of JDAIM and provides many resources to assist your community in planning programs during the month. The guide offers a number of ways you can make different spaces within your community more inclusive during February and throughout the year, and includes program outlines, book recommendations, and a list of resources provided by other organizations.

 

  • Start a “JDAIM Reads” book club. The JDAIM resource guide suggests that Jewish communities read certain books this year to think deeper about interacting with others who live with disabilities. “Following Ezra” is Tom Fields-Meyer’s loving account of how he learned more about his son who lives with autism. Fields-Meyer learns to celebrate the uniqueness and complexity of Ezra and helps him celebrate a special Bar Mitzvah. “Uniquely Human” is Barry M. Prizant’s insights from his career working with students on the autism spectrum. He explains that if we start by asking “why,” we will begin to understand students, who behave in ways that might seem mysterious. Finally, “The Mitten String” by Jenifer Rosner is a colorful picture book about a young girl Ruthie, who learns from a deaf woman how to use her love of knitting to help others. Start a book club in your community with these excellent “JDAIM Reads” selections.

 

 

The Mishnah teaches, “Don’t look at the flask, but at what it contains,” (Pirket Avot 4:26). Though disabilities can be seen or unseen, we can create Jewish communities that celebrate the uniqueness of all people. Let’s use JDAIM 2016 to commit ourselves to taking steps to insure further inclusion of all people in all of our spaces. 

Tyler Dratch is a 2015-2016 Eisendrath Legislative Assistant at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. He is from Newtown, PA, where he grew up at Congregation of Ohev Shalom of Bucks County. Tyler attended Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary.

Tyler Dratch