A Word of Caution Before Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month

Inclusion is a philosophy; Removing the Stumbling Block

Here we are again. We are about to embark on the beginning of yet another Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month; affectionately known by those who love acronyms as JDAIM. There’s a buzz in the Jewish Disability World. Can you feel it? 

JDAIM is an important opportunity to raise awareness while highlighting the many great resources and opportunities that already exist within our communities. I always hope that it will lead to the opening of new doors that were once closed.

However, I tend to get really put off by congratulatory pats on the back for great programs and events. If I am honest, 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. 

In and of itself, JDAIM is NOT inclusion. No one program is inclusion.
Inclusion is a mindset; a way of thinking. It is how we behave and treat one another. Inclusion 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. 

And even then, it cannot be about patting ourselves on the back and celebrate our successes because the work of true inclusion is never done.. 

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