The People vs. Moses
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Posted: Thu, 02/05/2015 - 21:27 | The New Normal

Editor’s Note: This article appeared in the Fall, 2014 issue of  The Journal of Jewish Communal Service, and is disseminated with the permission of its publisher, JPRO Network.  Subscriptions at JPRO.org. We are sharing this primer in three parts; to see part one click here.

Do a Self-Assessment on Inclusion. This is the first step in developing a comprehensive approach to serving people with disabilities. Here are some key questions to ask about your organization, inspired by material developed by the JE & ZB Butler and Ruderman Family Foundations.

  • Does your organization have policies and/or programs that support meaningful inclusion of people with disabilities at all levels? Are they prominent on your website and materials?
  • Does it have a disability advisory committee/inclusion committee, and if so, are Jews with disabilities themselves and their family members on the committee?
  • Will all people with any kind of disability be welcomed to participate? If not, why not? If so, how do you plan to identify, reach, and welcome them?
  • Do you serve Jews with disabilities in an inclusive way (welcoming them inside the full community), or are they forced into segregated “special needs programs” that are inherently unequal?
  • Has someone who uses a wheelchair personally checked the physical accessibility of your offices and programs for people who use wheelchairs?
  • Has a person who is blind and who uses adaptive computer technology checked your website and facilities for accessibility?
  • Do the videos you use have captions? Do you have a way to communicate with people who are deaf or use other adaptive supports?
  • Do you employ individuals who have disabilities? If so, what are their jobs? Do they receive the same compensation and benefits as all other employees in like positions?
  • How do you educate your staff, board of directors, trustees, and other key people about serving and partnering with people with disabilities?

Posted: Thu, 02/05/2015 - 13:45 | The New Normal

Editor’s Note: This article appeared in the Fall, 2014 issue of  The Journal of Jewish Communal Service, and is disseminated with the permission of its publisher, JPRO Network.  Subscriptions at JPRO.org.

We are sharing this primer in three parts; first the introduction, followed by the action steps.

After centuries of persecution, we Jews have become deeply committed to developing one asset over almost everything else—our minds. This asset is the one thing we can take with us to a new country, and it has contributed to our survival.

This devotion to education and achievement has been good for us and for the world as is evidenced by the many Nobel Prizes won by Jews for discovering lifesaving breakthroughs.

But what does that mean for those of us in the community who are not destined for acceptance at the top colleges or to win a Nobel Prize? What about the child who is born with an intellectual, learning, mental health, or physical disability or the individual who acquires a disability?

Posted: Thu, 02/05/2015 - 10:08 | The New Normal

As part of Jewish Disability Awareness Month 2012, my daughter Shaina, now 11, addressed a group of third through sixth graders at Temple Israel Center in White Plains. This is what she said:

“Hi, my name is Shaina and I am 8 years old.  I have a brother and his name is Avi. He is 11 years old. Avi loves to play like all other kids but he plays in a different way. He loves the things that other kids love, like music, videos, games and other things. But Avi behaves differently and learns differently because he has autism. This means that his brain works differently and it is hard for him to make friends and understand like other kids his age. 

Posted: Tue, 02/03/2015 - 12:55 | The New Normal

Posted: Sun, 02/01/2015 - 19:45 | The New Normal

Editor's Note: This blog originally appeared on www.jkidphilly.org

Most stories about inclusion in the Jewish community don’t involve singing in a Baptist church, but this one does.

For the last 25 years, members from my Conservative shul Beth Am Israel have come together annually with our local counterparts from a Reform temple and a predominantly African American Baptist church to sing in fellowship as the Unity Choir. We honor the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy together for the holiday weekend, but our collaborative partnership endures throughout the year.

Posted: Thu, 01/29/2015 - 21:16 | The New Normal

Ever gone on a long car trip with your children when one of them breaks the tedium of the road by piping up, “Are we there yet?”

The adorableness of this tyke wears off after they have asked the question three or four times. Your first response, “No honey bug, we’re not,” quickly morphs to a teeth clenching “No!” before you realize that little ones can’t read road maps or the GPS, and really, they are bored, tired of being in the car and maybe a little excited about getting to the destination.

Since February 2009, the first time the Jewish Special Education International Consortium members planned the first Jewish Disability Awareness Month, an increasing number of Jewish organizations and communities have hit the road, raising awareness about the way Jews with disabilities and those who love them have been practically invisible in Jewish life.