Inclusion

Creating An Inclusive Chanukah Program In Our School

As an educator in a fully inclusive supplemental religious school, which is part of a fully inclusive Reform congregation, one of the questions I am most often asked is “How do you do it?” I am eager to share my thoughts and suggestions, especially if it means that other congregations will move toward greater inclusion. And yet, while I share and have written articles such as Ten Steps to Make Your Congregation More Inclusive, I’d be lying if I said that you’d be all set if you just read and followed the exact steps that my congregation followed. You can’t just wrap our process up with a bow, plunk it down into your community and say, “OK, now we are inclusive.”

That is because inclusion is not a program.

At Beth-El's Chanukah Program. Courtesy of Lisa Friedman

Eight Ways To Build A More Inclusive Community

It’s Chanukah, and we’re thinking in eights. Here are eight steps we all can take towards making a more inclusive community for people of all abilities all year long.

1. Use People-First Language: The words used to describe us have an impact on our lives. One important change that many of us can make is to shift how we talk about people with disabilities — doing so helps to shift our perspectives and see the whole person. Put the person before the disability. David is a child who has autism, not an autistic child. Click here for resources to help guide you in using people-first language.

Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer

Creating Great Jewish Learning Experiences for All Kinds of Learners

Adam Rogers knows what it’s like to face challenges in school or in interactions with friends. As a younger kid, he experienced anger management issues. Now, as a high school sophomore, Adam helps others overcome their own set of learning challenges through the B’Tzelem: Jewish Teen Learning Companions at five Cleveland area congregations.

“My role in B’Tzelem is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done,” says Adam, who helps an 8th grader at Kol Chadash in Solon, OH.

B'Tzelem Teen Fellow. Courtesy of Jason Edelstein

Actually, It Doesn't Take A Village

We have all heard the phrase, "It takes a village to raise a child.” Some attribute it to an African proverb, though there appears to be some controversy about that. The phrase itself has become shopworn, utilized by elected officials, pundits and others. 

Steven Eidelman

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

Tikvah Family Shabbaton: Not Merely Accommodated, But Accepted and Nurtured

I am filled with the overwhelming feeling of gratifying exhaustion from running Ramah New England’s second Tikvah Family Shabbaton.

Tikvah Family Shabbaton Participants. Courtesy of Tali Cohen

On Gratitude

Gratitude is an essential part of my survival.  Let me introduce myself: I am a 67-year-old woman with a bipolar disorder, a spinal cord injury since 1975, an amputated left leg following a severe pressure sore in 2008, kidney disease requiring dialysis and breast cancer this summer that ruled out the possibility of getting a kidney transplant.

Empowering the Newly Disabled: Inspired by Hagar's Revelation

This week's Torah portion “Vayera" (And He (God) Appeared), relates a traumatic episode in the life of Hagar, Sarah’s servant and the woman who bore Ishmael to Sarah’s husband, Abraham. Hagar behaved haughtily to Sarah, and Ishmael’s behavior verged on violence. 

Rabbi Michael Levy

Winning The Title

Editor's Note: As we close out National Down Syndrome Month, we wanted to share another important voice focusing on living with Down Syndrome.

At 2 lbs 3 oz, Ilyse had already acquired the name "wild woman." Born prematurely with Down Syndrome, Ilyse showed spunk and grit and the intensive care unit nurses acknowledged this with a nickname. Later, as a competitor in Special Olympics, Ilyse's uncanny ability to capture the limelight led to her being called "Hollywood".  But the honorific that has had the greatest transformative effect on Ilyse is that of "Auntie."

Ilyse holding her niece. Courtesy of Becky Voorwinde
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