A Word of Caution Before Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month

Inclusion is a philosophy; Removing the Stumbling Block

There’s a buzz in the Jewish Disability World. Can you feel it? We are about to embark on the beginning of yet another Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month; affectionately known by those who love acronyms as JDAIM. It can be a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness while highlighting the many great resources and opportunities that already exist within our communities. Personally, I always hope that it will lead to the opening of new doors that were once closed.

But I tend to get put off by the hoopla and the congratulatory pats on the back for great programs and events. JDAIM actually makes me a little nervous. In a world that still focuses heavily on programs over relationships, I worry that JDAIM itself becomes the answer for some communities. I want 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. It is how we behave and 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 also 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.

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