Shelly Christensen's blog

Jewish Disability Awareness Month: Are We There Yet?

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.

Institute On Disabilities And Inclusion: Let Go Of The Old, Transform The Community

Editor's Note: This blog originally appeared at www.inclusioninnovations.com.

The second cohort of the Jewish Leadership Institute on Disabilities and Inclusion (JLIDI) convenes at the Pearlstone Center near Baltimore for four days of intense study this week. They will be treated to compelling and insightful presentations by our excellent faculty, bond with and learn from each other and have time to reflect on individual leadership challenges.

When I returned from the National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities (NLCDD) Leadership Institute, on which the JLIDI is based, in 2009, I was inspired by the concept of Person-Centered Thinking, in which all people have positive control over the lives they have chosen for themselves.

Faculty members Sarah Blitzstein, Rabbi Lynne Landsberg and Shelly Christensen. Courtesy of Shelly Christensen

For Yom Kippur: Did You Hear The One About...?

During Yizkor on Yom Kippur, I remember my father, who always made us laugh and I also remember my best friend Carla Meyers, who used to say, “In humor there is truth.”

So when I recently came across this joke in the Joseph Telushkin book Jewish Humor, I recognized the sad truth buried within a joke that causes discomfort in me because it should be so far from reality. 

The joke: A Jewish mother is walking down the street with her two young sons. A passerby asks her how old the boys are. “The doctor is three,” the mother answers. “And the lawyer is two.”

We can laugh at the joke, but I do believe that we are ready to move beyond the thinking behind it.

Don't Call Me Special, Says A Son On The Spectrum

Many would say that my son Jacob, 27, has “special needs.” Jacob would never describe himself that way, although he will tell you he has Asperger syndrome. So because Jake and I, each for our respective obvious reasons, take an intense interest in the semantics of disability, I recently asked him why he thinks people so often apply to him a term that he rejects.

Shelly Christensen

In February, A Focus On Raising Awareness

Imagine this: one day you are told by your own synagogue, “Sorry, we can’t help you. Our synagogue isn’t for you. We won’t be able to meet your needs.”

Shelly Christensen
Syndicate content