A Word of Caution as Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month Ends

When we commit ourselves, we can be inclusive; Removing the Stumbling Block

Whew. We made it. Another Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month in the books. Quite a few people have heard me refer to February as tax season for those of us in the Jewish disability inclusion world. I am not even a little bit sad to see the month come to an end.

It is certainly a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness while highlighting the many great resources and opportunities that already exist within our communities. And personally, I hope it has and will lead to the opening of new doors that were once closed.

But before the congratulatory pats on the back for great programs and events, I want to make a request:

In a world that still focuses so heavily on programs over relationships, I worry that JDAIM itself becomes the answer for some communities. I am begging you to remember that in and of itself, JDAIM is NOT inclusion. No one program is inclusion.

Inclusion is a mindset. Inclusion is a way of thinking. 

Inclusion is how we behave and how we treat one another. It is a philosophy that embraces the idea that everyone has something of value to contribute and that everyone has a right to belong. When we commit ourselves to making our programs accessible – not just in the physical sense, but by ensuring that each person’s participation is truly meaningful – then we can call ourselves inclusive. Then we can pat ourselves on the back and celebrate our success. But we are not there yet.

So use the inspiration that the month of February provided and move your community forward.

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