Jewish Disability Awareness Month: From Awareness to Inclusion
February is an eventful month! In the last four days, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and signaled six more weeks of winter and the Seahawks beat the Broncos to win the Super Bowl. In the next few weeks, we’ll watch the Olympics, celebrate Valentine’s Day, and make our Oscar predictions. For me, and for the Religious Action Center, one of the best things about February is Jewish Disability Awareness Month (JDAM).
JDAM is an opportunity for the Jewish community across North America to come together to raise awareness and support efforts that foster inclusion in our communities. And it’s an opportunity to remind ourselves that making sure that honor and implement Isaiah’s exhortation that God’s house “be called a house of prayer for all people” must be a priority not just for Jewish Disability Awareness Month, but every day of the year.
Throughout this month, we’ll be blogging about disability rights and how they are interwoven into everything we work on, from protecting Social Security, civil rights and criminal justice to environmental issues and veterans’ affairs.
Here’s a list of things to look forward to this month from the Reform Movement, and also how you can be involved!
- Participate in Jewish Disability Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill on February 6, 2014! For the fourth consecutive year, representatives from Jewish organizations and lay leadership from communities across the continent will come to Washington to learn about public policy issues impacting the disability community and then meet with their legislators and their staff to advocate on those issues.
- Fill out one of our action alerts on issues impacting the disability community:
- Tell Congress to support people with disabilities worldwide by ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
- Tell Congress to ensure financial security for people with disabilities by cosponsoring the ABLE (Achieving a Better Life) Act.
- Visit the RAC’s Disability Rights page to learn more about the Reform Jewish community’s advocacy efforts around disability issues and explore other resources for learning more, including Hineinu 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.
- Explore the Union for Reform Judaism’s Disabilities Page, which shares resources, articles, and more for congregational and individual use. The URJ also recently 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.
- Register now to join bestselling author Rabbi Naomi Levy on February 20th for a 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.
- And last but not least, like the Jewish Disability Awareness Month Facebook page, administered by Shelly Christensen of Inclusion Innovations, to get updates year-round about Jewish inclusion efforts and to connect with other advocates.
It’s going to be a great month, and we’re so excited that Jewish Disability Awareness Month is here!