Jewish Disability Awareness Month: Are We There Yet?

Published: 
January 29, 2015

Source: The Jewish Week

 

Since February 2009, the first time the Jewish Special Education International Consortium members planned the first Jewish Disability Awareness Month, an increasing number of Jewish organizations and communities have hit the road, raising awareness about the way Jews with disabilities and those who love them have been practically invisible in Jewish life. As advocates and service providers, we members of the Consortium knew that Jewish organizations could do better than give lip service to inclusion.

 

This is how Jewish Disability Awareness Month (JDAM) was born. A handful of Consortium members embraced the opportunity to put inclusion of people with disabilities on their community agendas. They partnered with community organizations to hold events in February including special “inclusion” services and dinners that welcomed people with disabilities and families. Community-wide events featured screening of the iconic inclusion film,“Praying with Lior.”  We were nowhere near to being there yet. We were barely out of the garage! And yet, we realized that JDAM could be a unifying factor to promote attitudinal change on a broad scale.

 

We will arrive at our destination when every person who has a disability and those who love them are engaged in the activities offered in synagogues, agencies and organizations — just like anyone else with the supports in place that they need to participate. They will have employment and housing opportunities just like anyone else, and most significantly, people with and without disabilities form friendships based on common interests.

 

February allows us to evaluate our commitment to inclusion, determine how close we are to our destination and make the course corrections that will get us there faster. Then the rest of the year we live that commitment to inclusion, working together to reach our destination.

 

Join our dialogue all month long: use #JDAM15 on social media. Visit our resources and ideas for programming here.

 

Read more at The Jewish Week.

Updated: Feb. 12, 2015
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