Jewish Community

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

Inclusive Congregations: Justice, Not Charity

When our son was a newborn, another mom of a child with Down syndrome suggested that we see “Praying with Lior.” Deeply moved by the movie, I turned to my husband and told him that we needed to find a synagogue so that our Julian would have a faith community that knows, loves and supports him. We were not interested in “tolerance” or even “acceptance.” We wanted to be part of a congregation that celebrated difference and embraced members with disabilities as part of its fabric. 

Outside Looking In: Inclusion From A Different Perspective

Permit me to challenge you to look at inclusion from a different perspective. 

I think it is time to stop viewing inclusion as a chesed — an act of selfless kindness — to benefit only the individual with special needs. I believe that the inclusion of people with disabilities into all aspects of mainstream life benefits society as a whole, and has a profound impact on everyone who takes part in it.

Mixed Message On Mixed Marriage

10/08/2014
Members of the Board, Religious Zionists of America
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Gary Rosenblatt reports in his column, “At Year’s End, Struggling To Stay Together” (Sept. 19), that at a recent meeting of 50 Jewish “thought leaders and communal activists” in Baltimore, participants noted that many in the Jewish community measure the success or failure of Jewish education according to “the choice of a Jewish marriage partner.” Certainly despite other religious differences in the Jewish community, there is a broad consensus that intermarriage is undesirable.

New Hillels Director Coming Home, Sort Of

Rachel Eden Klein hopes to attract the disengaged to her four county campuses.

10/01/2014
Westchester Correspondent
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Never mind that Rachel Eden Klein, the new executive director for the Hillels of Westchester “was not very active in Hillel at Delaware or Penn,” she said, referring to the colleges where she did her undergraduate and graduate work. “What drove me to this is that I was the statistic of the disengaged, young adult Jew who wasn’t involved.”

Rachel Eden Klein, a self-described "temple brat," comes to the Hillels of Westchester from a career in social work.

Jewish Flavor At Climate March

09/24/2014
Photos By Hazon
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Several thousand members of the Jewish community got a head start on High Holy Days shofar blowing on Sunday — sounding a Jewish alarm, so to speak, about the issue of global warming.

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Respond Positively To Good News Among Arabs And Muslims

08/11/2014
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When missiles and bombs are flying, while terrorists kidnap and murder, when civilians are caught in the crossfire, and when diaspora Jews and Palestinians are vilified and attacked, there is no good news for anyone. But planning beyond the horrors of the past weeks, as we must, careful scanning of changes in the Arab and Muslim worlds suggest new opportunities for Israelis to live at peace with Palestinians and other neighbors.

Ruderman Family Foundation Names Inclusion Award Winners

The Ruderman Family Foundation announced today the five winners of the third annual Ruderman Prize in Inclusion. The Prize honors organizations worldwide who operate innovative programs and provide services that foster the full inclusion of people with disabilities in their local Jewish community.

Debra Cohen, JFS President, and Becky Cisneros at the opening of “Houstonians with Positive Exposure.” Courtesy of Meredith Sega

France’s New Chief Rabbi Calls For Inclusiveness

06/24/2014
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Paris - France’s newly elected chief rabbi has vowed to pursue a path of inclusiveness and restore the confidence of the country’s half a million Jewish community, badly shaken by anti-Semitic attacks and a recent scandal over religious divorce.

Creative Accommodations: Including People Who Are Deaf In The Jewish Community

Editor's Note: Alexis Kasher, the current president of the Jewish Deaf Resource Center, recently shared her personal experiences and perspectives on inclusion for people who are deaf in the Jewish community at the Foundation for Jewish Camping conference. New Normal editor Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer interviewed Kashar about the conference.

NN: What is your experience of inclusion for people who are deaf in the Jewish community?
AK: I spent many years practicing civil rights and special education law. My practice focused on the civil and education rights of people who are deaf and hard of hearing or with disabilities. Laws are in place to protect their rights; however, enforcement is still an issue. It has been many years since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and various federal special education laws was passed but we still have a ways to go before we are at 100 percent compliance. The truth is, once we are at 100 percent compliance, we will have achieved universal design that will benefit everyone. For instance, imagine how strollers would get around without curb cuts and how we could watch the Super Bowl in a noisy public place without closed captioning. However, for the most part religious organizations are exempt from compliance with the ADA. 

Alexis Kashar
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