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I imagine that we all have heard the story of a group of blindfolded men and women who, standing around an elephant, were asked to describe the animal based only on their sense of touch. Each person’s perception of the elephant varied widely from the others, based entirely on whether one stood near the torso, trunk, leg, or tail of the elephant.

“What does that have to do with an "Introduction to Judaism" class?” you might ask.

Like blindfolded people attempting to describe an elephant, it’s not always easy to describe what Judaism is, exactly. Is it a religion, a culture,...

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hands stacked one atop another in a show of support and cooperation

This week marks the halfway point in Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month. Since 2009, this community-wide initiative has sought to raise awareness and support for including people with disabilities in all facets of Jewish life.

Here are just a few of the stories, ideas, and resources that have resulted from this important awareness effort, both from the Reform Jewish community and beyond. Are we missing a resource you found especially helpful? Link to it in the comments and let us know!

  1. Drop everything and start here:...
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Thumbs up toward the sky

Like any child, growing up I relied on the support of my parents. Due to my severe learning disabilities, this support was even more essential. Although I was reading at age 4 and showed a propensity toward math, teachers were concerned about me advancing grades in school because of my handwriting – which we later learned was a direct result of my visual motor skills disability.

I went to a Jewish day school that cared deeply about my needs and my education, but as a small school without expertise in the area, was not able to meet these needs. Fortunately, my parents were able to...

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Two men in synagogue balcony, one in tallit and phylacteries

At 26, Csanad Szedgedi was the poster boy of Hungary’s burgeoning far-right nationalist party. He founded the Iron Guard, a paramilitary organization inspired by the Arrow Cross, a pro-Nazi party complicit in the murder of thousands of Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust. And as national vice chairman of the radically patriotic Christian party, Jobbik, he held one of the three seats it won in the 2009 European Parliamentary Elections.

Three years later, his world crashed down around him after a fellow neo-Nazi broke the news to him and to the world that Csanad’s maternal...

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Blond mother looking down as she tries to soothe a crying baby she holds in her arms

My beautiful, screaming daughter was born May 30th. I finished my job as an assistant rabbi on June 30 and began serving a small congregation as a part-time rabbi on July 1st. Shira continued to scream. The congregation was loving, supportive of my leadership and new ideas, and embracing of my family. My rabbinate was flourishing – but inside, I was dying.

I can still feel the tears running down my face as I sat, holding my daughter as she screamed at my breast, refusing to nurse. If I could not breastfeed her, I thought, it must be my fault. And so we cried together, each seeking...

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