JDAM Retrospective: Jewish Disability Awareness Month Calls Us to Action

Guest Bollger Shelly Christensen, Author of “The Jewish Community Guide to Inclusion of People with Disabilities,” speaker, consultant and co-founder of JDAM.

The doorpost to the sanctuary now has two mezzuzot attached to it. One is at standing height for adults; the other, hung in a ceremony with the religious school,  is at sitting height for congregants who have disabilities and children.

The Temple Sisterhood and the Inclusion Committee co-hosted a congregational dinner together and members of both groups participated in services that reflected a world in which all of us belong.

Jews representing many national and community organizations briefed members of Congress and met with them individually on February 7. They spoke with one voice about the consequences of Medicaid cuts on people with disabilities and older adults.

Communities came together to talk about barriers to inclusion and individual attitudes as a beginning process that will guide communal focus on meaningful participation.

Jewish communities all over the world started to understand that Jews with disabilities have rights to live an ordinary life where they can live, work, learn, love, play and worship as they choose.

JDAM started four years ago when the Jewish Special Education International Consortium decided to encourage inclusion programming to raise awareness in one single month in our own communities. It has grown to include individual organizations, Jewish communities, organizations and the movements.

JDAM is focuses on what meaningful inclusion of people with disabilities means to them as well as to the entire community. The response has been tremendous. In fact, he Jewish Disability Awareness Month(JDAM) Facebook page (www.facebook.com/JewishDisabilityAwarenessMonth) has an increasing number of “likes”, and includes program sharing, and challenging questions to keep us on task.

JDAM is easily recognizable by the Magen David logo which symbolizes that inclusion of people with disabilities is woven into all aspects of Judaism. During JDAM, we read Parshah Terumah.
We are inspired by God’s insistence to build the Mishkan (Tabernacle) so that God could dwell among the people. This image of God’s accessibility to all the people is a powerful one.

JDAM is a call to action, challenging us to go beyond awareness to action.

I like to quote the great Chassidic master, Yehudi Hakadosh. “Good intentions alone not followed by action are without value. It is the actions which make the intentions so profound.”

May we all hear that call to action and act with intention, together as Jews. We do this together envisioning the possibilities and potential in each one of us.

A listing of all known JDAM events can be found on my website.

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Filed under Disabilities rights, Disabilities Trends, Initiatives, Uncategorized

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