Since the start of #BlogElul (Thanks again to Rabbi PhyllisSommer for the inspiration and challenge) I have been posting my thoughts on the intersection of the daily prompt and inclusion. As I read through what I have written thus far, (please feel free to catch up, if you are just joining me) I recognize that for some, it may seem like a lot of “shoulds”. This is how you should treat people with disabilities, this is how you should speak about people with disabilities, this is how you should teach and include people with disabilities.
My goal has been to get you thinking, not make you feel guilty. If you have read something that isn’t a part of your life, this is the time to forgive yourself and, as you move forward, find ways to add these new elements into your daily practice.
Maybe you are not yet consistently using inclusive language. Forgive yourself, and move forward.
Maybe you shy away from people with disabilities for fear of saying or doing the wrong thing. Forgive yourself, and move forward.
Maybe you have not yet integrated the strategies to teach a child with disabilities in your classroom. Forgive yourself, and move forward.
Maybe you haven’t yet found a way to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities in your congregation. Forgive yourself, and move forward.
And as you forgive, know that you can do more. In this month of Elul, in this period of teshuvah (returning to one’s self, repentance) you have the beautiful opportunity to reflect on what you are already doing and what challenges still lie ahead of you. It is a chance to change, to grow, to be and do more than you already are. It’s ok if you are not there yet.
Forgive yourself, and move forward.