Visual artist Chany Wieder-Blank recently participated in the Asylum Arts International Jewish Artist Retreat, which was created as part of Schusterman Connection Points, an initiative launched by the Schusterman Philanthropic Network, a global enterprise that supports and creates innovative initiatives for the purpose of igniting the passion and unleashing the power in young people to create positive change in Jewish communities and beyond.
“The New Normal” Editor Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer interviewed Wieder-Blank about her experience at Asylum, her art, activism, Jewish identity and experience as a person living with a disability.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has released new data stating that 1 in 68 children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This number is a 30% increase from data released in May 2012 that identified 1 in 88 children as having autism. It is 120% higher than the numbers reported in 2000 and 2002, which identified 1 in 150 children as having autism. In 1980, only 1 in 10,000 children was diagnosed with autism.
Nalaga'at Theater Deaf-Blind Acting Ensemble is a world famous acting group whose cast consists of a dozen talented deaf-blind actors. RespectAbilityUSA is an American non-profit organization devoted to empowering people with disabilities to be valued and respected for the abilities that they do have. Claudia Gordon works at the White House Office of Public Engagement where she serves as the Public Engagement Advisor to the Disability Community. All three joined together for a night of theater and exchange, when Nalaga'at performed at the Kennedy Center.
The stigma associated with all kinds of human difference pervades social awareness. Whether prejudice is based on race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, physical characteristics or disabilities, few possess the neutrality towards the other we espouse as a liberal ideal. Western democracies combat the inequalities stemming from such differences. By statute and judicial judgment, access to housing, jobs, education, transportation, and the right to vote have been mandated, but despite significant legislative advances over the past 30 years, few are satisfied that the goals of such laws have achieved their intended effects.
Jewish Disabilities Awareness Month (JDAM) ended in February, but the energy and intentions behind this national effort to raise awareness and encourage communities to take action to become more inclusive are going strong. #JDAM14 was full of dynamic, passionate programs locally and nationally. The voices of people in the Jewish community who are writing about disability and inclusion is also a big part of spreading the word.
At its recent plenum convening community, lay and professional leaders from around the country, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs passed its first resolution on inclusion and disabilities in the Jewish community. Founded in 1944, the JCPA creates a network of 16 national and 125 local independent partner Jewish community relations councils. The plenum is the JCPA’s annual, national forum in which members gather to prioritize and gain consensus on key social action issues both within the Jewish community and regarding matters that affect the general population, including poverty, gun control and immigration reform.