Turn Meaningful Reflection into Positive Action: A Look Back at Jewish Disability Awareness Month

It’s May. Can you believe it? Every year it seems to sneak up on me. But here it is.

Most synagogues and Jewish professionals are at the point in the year that I typically call the “race to the finish line.” We are busy completing our program years, winding down religious schools and looking toward Shavuot as a point where we might briefly catch our breath; all while planning for next year by finalizing calendars and budgets. We can probably agree that the much anticipated summer months will allow us a chance to regroup, reflect and start it all over again.

I think this is a good time for a check-in.

Do you remember that February was Jewish Disability Awareness Month, or is it just a flash in your rear-view mirror at this point? Did you check JDAM off your program list as you moved on to the next activity, event or holiday? Now is the perfect time, despite the crazy, hectic days of budgets and calendars, to be thinking about JDAM.

Take a moment or two for reflection. Did you experience something meaningful? Did you learn something new? What inspired you? Please share it here. Let’s learn from each other, share our experiences and use this as an opportunity for meaningful reflection. Meaningful reflection can lead to positive action!

Some thoughts for you to consider:

  • As you plan next year’s calendar, dedicate specific days for disability awareness/acceptance opportunities.
  • Even better, look at your entire calendar with an eye toward ensuring that all your programs will be inclusive.
  • Form an inclusion committee or task force now, so that it can guide your conversations in the program year to come.
  • As you plan your budget, set aside funds for professional development, teacher training and/or guest speakers.
  • Even better, make the commitment to hire a dedicated professional to specifically focus on issues of inclusion.

It’s May. And if you are like me, February seems like a year ago. I hope you don’t let Jewish Disability Awareness Month become just another “program” that you “did” this year.

Inclusion is too important.

Originally published at Jewish Special Needs Education: Removing the Stumbling Block

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Lisa Friedman

About Lisa Friedman

Lisa Friedman is the education co-director at Temple Beth-El in Hillsborough, New Jersey. This position includes overseeing an extensive Special Needs program within the Religious School designed to help students successfully learn Hebrew, learn about their Jewish heritage and feel connected to their Jewish community. Lisa also consults with congregations to develop inclusive practices for staff, clergy, and families through dialogue, interactive workshops and awareness training. She blogs at Jewish Special Needs Education: Removing the Stumbling Block.

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