Finding the "I" in Inclusion

How do you find the "I" in inclusion? Removing the Stumbling Block

I had the opportunity to learn about Israel education with my colleagues at the Association of Reform Jewish Educators annual gathering. I felt fortunate to learn among friends who care so deeply about the future of Reform Jewish education and I eagerly sought new ideas and gleaned significant insights.

For me, one session had greater impact than the others. Rabbi Yehudit Werchow, the Director of Israel Engagement for the Union for Reform Judaism, led us in a conversation about what it can mean to find the "I" in Israel engagement. The focus of our dialogue was on what each of us brings to the conversation; our personal narratives, our personal journeys, the deeply personal stories that shape our understanding. Our discussion was rich and meaningful, and I was impressed by Yehudit’s choice to use poetry & music as the tool to explore our memories, experiences and connections to Israel.

Almost immediately I found myself wondering what it would mean to engage in a conversation about finding the "I" in inclusion. How do our personal stories and journeys inform the way that we feel about and teach about inclusion? How can these stories help us to shape our personal and professional practice?

Jewish and secular education professionals have long known that our work is built on relationships. It is critical to honor each personal story and experience to make room in the process for every stakeholder. When we celebrate personal journeys, we acknowledge that each of us can make a valuable contribution to shaping and driving successful inclusive practice.

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