by Jen Phillips & Michelle Friedman
Since 2009, the month of February has been designated Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month.
JDAIM’S mission is “to unite Jewish communities worldwide to raise awareness and champion the rights of all Jews to be accepted and included in all aspects of Jewish life like anyone else.”
Many organizations, schools and synagogues will be having programs and activities to mark the month and educate the community. While Keshet leadership will participate in various JDAIM activities as speakers, panelists and bloggers, Keshet as an organization does not plan any specific programming for JDAIM. If that sounds antithetical to who we are as an organization, it actually is not. It is in fact exactly because of who we are and what we do every day that we do not have specific programming for JDAIM.
We influence assumptions about people with disabilities and we impact the lives of disabled and non-disabled individuals every day of every month of every year through our educational, recreational, adult, and residential programs.
Our mission is to create a community of belonging, where individuals with disabilities learn, play, work, live and grow with people of all abilities. This is at the core of what we do every single day. Tikun olam (repairing the world) is a Jewish imperative, and a value that Keshet lives by.
For us inclusion is an action. It is something you do as a means to an end, instead of being the end goal. Inclusion is an action that we at Keshet take every day toward creating a community where everyone feels welcome, everyone is valued for their contribution and where everyone belongs, and that is the end goal, and how we live the value of tikkun olam.
We applaud those organizations, schools and synagogues who have programming in the month of February for JDAIM, but for us at Keshet every day of every month is about Jewish disability awareness and inclusion. It has been this way for the last 40 years and will continue to be so for the next 40 years and beyond.