Today, when Prime Minister Netanyahu gave a vital speech in front of 14,000 people at AIPAC on the threat of Iran and the need for a successful lasting and secure peace, there was no sign language interpreter or live captioning offered. There were more than 40 massive screens around the room showing the speech – yet not one of them enabled someone with a hearing impairment to follow the program.
When most people think of the New Jersey YM-YWHA Camps they likely think of their specialty summer programs designed to develop skills in sports and other areas. After all, former Yankee Ron Blomberg, NBA basketball coach Herb Brown, and Olympic swimmer Lenny Krayzelburg teach at their camps. But this year, in addition to baseball, basketball, swimming, soccer, tennis, ceramics, painting, jewelry making, astronomy and cinematography the NJY camp also included a first-rate experience in inclusion of campers with disabilities.
As we start the New Year, it’s important to look back on what was accomplished for inclusion of Jews with disabilities this past year. We planted the seeds for future progress. Most of the work focused on “setting the table” for inclusion: raising awareness, creating critical policies and standards, and developing and conducting training for professionals. Hopefully, 2014 will be the year of implementation. Meanwhile, here are the top plays and players of 2013.
Last week I observed a first-of-its kind gathering – a five-day intensive professional training for American Jewish leaders on inclusion of people with disabilities. The forum took place in a kosher retreat center outside of Baltimore, and people had came from many cities to learn a special curriculum that was designed by inclusion experts Shelly Christensen and Prof. Steve Eidelman.
When the Jewish Federation of North America hosts the GA in Jerusalem this week, there will be one session on inclusion of Jews with disabilities. The speakers are terrific and I urge all participants to attend. But this panel discussion will be one in a long line of “too little, too slow” actions by JFNA to embrace inclusion of Jews with disabilities.
By this point, there's been quite a bit of buzz in the Jewish community about the fact that Vice-President Joe Biden not only celebrated Sukkot, but did so in a sukkah built on the grounds of his residence at Number One Observatory Circle.
And while this is amazing, there is more to the story, as there is more to a sukkah than its walls and roof. Hint: It's all about the decorations.
Almost 100 percent of the 2,607 relatively engaged Jews polled by RespectAbilityUSA and Jerusalem U agree that “Jewish events and organizations should be as welcoming and inclusive of people with disabilities as everyone else,” with 89 percent of the sample agreeing strongly.
I am writing for your advice on Jewish identity, Israel and more. RespectAbilityUSA is partnering with JerusalemU for this online survey and we want to be sure that the sample has enough Jews with disabilities and their family members. Can you please fill this out AND send it to all the Jews you know who have disabilities or a family member with a disability? So far 1800 Jews have filled out the survey, but not nearly enough of them are from the disability community. We want your voice to be heard!
Today in Milwaukee, governors from across the country will meet for the National Governors Association summer meeting, and I am thrilled to tell you that they share our goal of of empowering people with disabilities to achieve the American dream by working in a real job for a real wage.