Since 2009, Jewish communities worldwide have observed Jewish Disabilities Awareness and Inclusion Month (JDAIM) each February. JDAIM’s purpose is “to raise awareness and champion the rights of all Jews to be included and to participate in all aspects of Jewish life” and aims to remind us that while disability may come into focus in February, we must remain committed to inclusion and accessibility for all people year-round.
The national Jewish community has already begun fantastic work on ensuring that Jewish spaces are open to and accepting of people of all abilities. The Jewish Federations of North America’s Washington, D.C. office has included disability advocacy across the lifespan (education, transportation, housing, career, caregiver support, etc.) in their public policy priorities, and we are so proud of the Jewish Disability Advocacy Day that took place in Washington, D.C. earlier this month.
Here in Indy, we too have placed high importance on inclusion and accessibility in our programming; for example, Jewish Family Services provides a monthly Parents Night Out, and many of the more than 500 children in our PJ Library program received books like Jennifer Rosner’s The Mitten String (deafness), Barbara Diamond Goldin’s Cakes and Miracles (blindness) and Tami Lehman-Wilzig’s Nathan Blows out the Hanukkah Candles (autism and other developmental disorders). We were fortunate to work with Chicago’s Keshet, an organization that serves individuals with special needs; they have helped guide our JCC Day Camp, Jewish Family Services and JFGI in making our physical and programmatic spaces as accessible as possible. We are greatly looking forward to putting together a task force later this year that will focus on how Judaism and our community can enhance how we honor individuals with disabilities across the lifespan.
Interested in helping make our community more inclusive and accessible? Email me at email@example.com, and I’d be thrilled to talk with you about joining our efforts.