Each February, we observe Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month. Up to 25% of people live with a disability, which means many of your colleagues have visible or invisible disabilities.
Related Blog Posts on Living with Disabilities
The current Israel-Hamas war is impacting communities throughout Israel, Gaza, and the world. However, some populations are more affected than others, including those living with disabilities.
July is Disability Pride Month. I’ve been living with disabilities for more than 20 years, but I’m just beginning to imagine being proud of my disability.
Living most of my life in a hearing world – as a not-fully hearing person – has been my “normal” living experience. I don’t know any other way of being. I suspect there is a different way of living because everyone around me tells me so – they imagine that my life must be so hard, how I must cope (what are my choices??). At one point, I tried to connect to the Deaf community. Between not being fluent in American Sign Language and being able to live in the hearing world, I didn’t feel welcome – although I learned a lot about myself as a less-than-fully-hearing person in a hearing world. A few years ago, when I went from hard of hearing to deaf, I decided that I would be just that, “deaf” without the capital “D”. I am now a deaf person living in a hearing world (as opposed to a Deaf person with connections to the Deaf community).
The Passover seder is about telling our story, which is often done by communally reading the Haggadah, a written collection of stories, rituals, and commentary. Without accessible options, people with various disabilities are prevented from fully participating in the seder.
Throughout the Torah, we are instructed to move through the world with an extraordinary degree of mindfulness to the experience of others; we, too, were slaves to Pharoah in Egypt. We, as Jews, are implored by the divine to notice that which others might not observe and to advocate for one another because we know what it is to be somehow exceptional.
My Hebrew name is Emunah, and I have autistic spectrum disorder (ASD).
Emily Ladau is a Jewish disability rights activist, writer, storyteller, and digital communications consultant. We sat down with Emily to chat about how Jewish values inform her work and what employers, employees, and coworkers can do to proactively affirm people with disabilities in the workplace.
Jewish Disability Advocacy Month is an opportunity to participate in working toward a more just world.
Just a few days after the first yahrzeit of my friend and mentor, I can’t help but recall how she influenced my life and the legacy she left behind.