Inclusion is NOT a Program

Inclusion is right, so we do it; Removing the Stumbling Block

A colleague asked if I would be willing to share some written information about our Religious School special needs programs. It makes me happy when others wish to start programs of their own and seek to emulate ours. I readily offered a few program write-ups that I have created over the years, but as I crafted the email, I pointed out that my attachments were primarily focused around our grade school programs. I explained that in our high school programs we modify where needed, but we don't have pull-out programs; it's all inclusion. There's no "write-up" or program description other than the ones for our post b'nei mitzvah programs at large.

That's because inclusion is not a program.

Accommodations are important. Awareness is necessary. But inclusion is not a program. Inclusion is a mindset. It is the way we treat others and the way they treat us. Inclusion is the opportunity to learn together and from one another. And we do it because it is the right thing to do. Period. As Jews, we have the moral imperative to do what is right and just in this world. Inclusion is right. Inclusion is just. So we do it.

I am finding it harder and harder to understand why everyone isn't on this same page.

You can read my program descriptions, marketing materials or curriculum guides; but write-ups won't really convey our deep and unyielding commitment to inclusion. I can convey this when I speak to communities or when I offer any one of a variety of workshops for teachers, teens and lay leaders. But don't confuse things. Bringing me in isn't inclusion; but it will be a starting point, a springboard. That's because what we are really talking about here is attitude. We need to have an attitude of yes. That's inclusion.

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  1. Lisa,
    I agree. Staff of inclusion programs at Camp Ramah always talk not about inclusion as an "it" but as "why". I appreciate the way you answer an educational question with a social one.

    1. Thank you, Ben. I deeply respect the inclusion work of Camp Ramah. I've actually always hoped to have an opportunity to visit and see some of its beauty in person. And yes, together we can all shift our culture to one where "this is what we do...period."


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