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.
The Jewish Federations of North America and the Ruderman Family Foundation will be placing young adults with disabilities in internships and fellowships at five federation offices in an effort to promote disability inclusion in the Jewish community.
Recent statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that as many as one in six may have one or more developmental disabilities or other developmental delays. This is a daunting phenomenon, but for the Jewish community, it is also an opportunity, both in the context of Jewish values and the continuity of our faith, to welcome those who have been marginalized back into our community. We must dedicate ourselves to a continuous effort to shift our thinking to ensure we recognize, appreciate, and invite individuals with disabilities and their families into the mosaic that makes up today’s Jewish world.
April is Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month, an opportunity for all Americans to commit to supporting people with autism spectrum disorders, ensure they are afforded opportunities to reach their full potential, and appreciate the contributions individuals on the autism spectrum make to our families, communities and society.