At the New Normal, we know that creating a more inclusive Jewish community is a year-round effort, but we also recognize that Jewish Disability Awareness Month (JDAM) in February is a chance to come together as a national community to raise disability awareness and support inclusion efforts. JDAM is a time when we can focus our attention on providing meaningful inclusion and full participation of people with disabilities and their families in Jewish community.
When I was a little girl I would dream about what other little Jewish girls would dream about. I played house with my dolls and I would dream about growing up, getting married and having children. But as I got older – as a 12-13 year old – I got stuck in an institution and that was society’s way of telling me that my dreams were not realistic.
Society, back then in the 1960s, was very different than it is today. To lock someone away in a prison-like environment because they’re mentally challenged was common back then. It was horrible. Places like that don’t exist anymore, Baruch Hashem.
For the last few years, I’ve been teaching a Social Pragmatics curriculum at the small, family-run preschool in our neighborhood. For the first couple of years, it was a great job. S was a student there, and our expectation was that G would soon follow. I was teaching about social development, emotional regulation and solving problems with friends … all while using great children’s books to support the lessons. Life was good.
Eventually, S graduated preschool and moved on to elementary. Because of G’s special needs, he only attended the neighborhood school for 2 months.
Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation and a national leader on disability inclusion issues, has called on CNN to apologize for a derogatory remark toward people with disabilities made by CNN anchorman Jim Clancy.
In a bizarre Twitter exchange, CNN Anchor Jim Clancy responded to a critical Tweet with “Get a grip, junior. It’s my Friday night. You and the Hasbara team need to pick on some cripple on the edge of the herd.”
When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his inspiring “I have a Dream” speech in August, 1963 the civil rights movement for people of color had come of age. I have listened to recordings of the speech too many times to count. It inspires every time. And it is emblazoned on our collective psyche. We all know the story of Rosa Parks, an African-American woman who refused, in 1955, to give up her seat on a public bus and move to the back so that a white person would be able to sit where she had been sitting.