February is Jewish Disability Awareness Month
Tomorrow marks the start of Jewish Disability Awareness Month, a time when the North American Jewish community comes together to raise awareness and support efforts to foster inclusion of people with disabilities and their families in Jewish communities worldwide. Shelly Christensen, program manager of the Minneapolis Jewish Community Inclusion Program for People with Disabilities and one of the leading voices behind Jewish Disability Awareness Month, says:
The goal of Jewish Disability Awareness Month is to shift our attitudes to see that having a disability is part of the human condition-and to see that humanity in each person we meet. Jewish Disability Awareness Month is universally recognized in February, but the need to belong and be included goes on month after month, day after day.
Here's a look at what's happening this month and how you can take part.
- All month long, stay tuned to ReformJudaism.org's blog for posts representing voices throughout the Reform Jewish community on disability-related topics. We'll be participating in JDAMblogs, an effort spear-headed by Jewish educator Lisa Friedman. Lisa, who blogs at Jewish Special Needs Education: Removing the Stumbling Block, has created a "link-up" tool where you can submit the URL to your disability-related blog posts and read posts from others throughout the community. Want to blog for ReformJudaism.org about disability issues? Check out our submission guidelines and start writing!
- The Union for Reform Judaism's Disabilities page shares resources, articles, and more for congregational and individual use. Recently, the URJ announced a new partnership with the Ruderman Family Foundation to launch the Ruderman Synagogue Inclusion Initiative, which aims to improve attitudes about inclusion and disabilities among community leaders and clergy, Jewish professionals, organizational leaders, and congregants, and to ensure full inclusion and participation of people with disabilities and their families in every aspect of Reform Jewish life.
- The Jewish Disability Awareness Month Facebook page, administered by Shelly Christensen of Inclusion Innovations, supports initiatives and programs throughout the entire year that raise awareness and work to bring people with disabilities, their families, and those who love them into their Jewish communities in meaningful ways. Like this page for year-round updates Jewish inclusion efforts and to connect with other advocates.
- Visit the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism's Disability Rights page to learn more about the Reform Jewish community's advocacy efforts around disability issues. Through this page, you can contact your elected officials about disability issues, asking them to support ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and swift passage of the ABLE Act.
- Hineinu is an innovative new collaboration of disability professionals, activists, and policy experts from the Reform, Reconstructionist, Conservative, and Orthodox Jewish communities, designed to increase disability inclusion in synagogues for people of all abilities. This guide includes resources for congregational leaders, as well as Jewish texts relevant to disability issues.
- Join bestselling author Rabbi Naomi Levy on February 20th for an intimate, uplifting webinar discussion of her memoir, Hope Will Find You, this year's official Jewish Disability Awareness Month book selection. Rabbi Levy will tell her own story and engage participants in a discussion about the spiritual and practical struggles of raising a child with special needs. Register now.
- Do you tweet? Use the hashtag #JDAM14 to talk about disability issues with the Jewish community all month long
How is your Jewish community observing Jewish Disability Awareness Month? Leave a comment below!