9 Must Reads for Jewish Disabilities Awareness Month

Tags: Inclusion

By Israel Forever Staff

1. Why give a damn about JDAIM? by Michelle K. Wolf

"The majority of affiliated Jews probably have never heard about JDAIM, and that’s a big problem. How do we bridge the gap between involved disability activists and the larger community? How do we get leaders of organizations to recognize that including children, teens and adults with disabilities is not only the moral “Jewish” thing to do, but also serves to strengthen our entire community? How do we move beyond lip service and well-meaning sermons to achieve full inclusion of community members with physical, intellectual, developmental and mental disabilities?" READ MORE »

2. The wisdom of the disabled by Zahava Altshul

"Perhaps the answer is that those who struggle with physical and cognitive disabilities possess a heightened ability to perceive a real miracle when they see (or accomplish) one. It's as though their inborn "restrictions" and "barriers" are actually a framework for amplified blessing recognition. The rest of us, however, are busy looking so far beyond ourselves, that we fail to see that which we already have, the blessings within us." READ MORE »

3. The Typical Israel Experience And A Whole Lot More by Howard Blas

Tikvah participants in Israel. Photo courtesy of Howard Blas.

“Eight brave young adults with disabilities from across the United States traveled to Israel over winter break as part of Ramah Israel Institute’s Tikvah Ramah Israel Trip. Most of this year’s travelers are current participants in or recent graduates of the various vocational training programs at Ramah camps. They are in transition to the world of work and, in some cases, moving from ther parents’ homes to other living environments. Their itinerary included many of the sites and experiences of a “standard 10-day Israel trip" and a whole lot more.” READ MORE »

4. ’Special Needs,' 'Inclusion,' 'Disability' Or None Of The Above? Why Labels Matter by Rabbi Daniel Grossman

“Label Jars Not People.” Photo courtesy of Jay Wilson.

“When you begin by asking what someone prefers and choose for their own identity, you send a message. “It matters to me what you think, and you have the right to your OWN identity.” Each individual is deserving of the self-identity they choose, and, no one has the right to label anyone.

When you choose your own identity, the name or word you choose is no longer a label, but rather a description of how you want to be perceived. In this way, everyone benefits. You are more than a label, and everyone starts on the same footing of respect and openness.” READ MORE »

5. I'm Not Your Mitzvah Project by Pamela Rae Schuller

"But here is the thing: It is not a mitzvah to let me in the door. It’s not. Opening your door to those with disabilities is not enough. Because there is a critical difference between tolerance and full inclusion. If we are practicing full inclusion, our communities should be celebrating each person and what they bring to the community, not just what they demand of it." READ MORE »

6. New IDF Program Welcomes Soldiers With Special Needs by Jennifer Tzivia MacLeod/

Chen Orpaz (left) with IDF Lt. Col. (Ret.) Ariel Almog, founder of “Special in Uniform,” in the warehouse of the Rehovot-based technology company IDEA. Orpaz, who has an intellectual disability, now works at IDEA after picking up the skills he needed from working in the warehouse on an air force base as part of the Special in Uniform project. (Courtesy Jewish National Fund.)

"When it isn’t possible for an individual to serve fully in the IDF, Special in Uniform matches up the individual’s talents and abilities with a volunteer position in which they can contribute to the country in some meaningful way." READ MORE »

7. Meet Israel’s ZDVO survivors by Gareth Narunsky

Nati Hakshur

"SUPPORTING Israel’s injured soldiers and victims of terror is the obligation of all Jews in the Diaspora.

That’s the view expressed by Zahal Disabled Veterans Organisation (ZDVO) president Michael Balkin, ahead of the organisation’s fundraiser in Sydney this month, which will feature two injured Israelis, a soldier and a victim of terror." READ MORE »

8. Green therapy: an oasis in Israel’s Negev Desert for people with disabilities by Megan E. Turner/

Green therapy at the Aleh Negev-Nahalat Eran rehabilitation village in southern Israel. Credit: Courtesy Jewish National Fund.

"Green therapy participants are brought to a greenhouse on the Aleh Negev campus, where they are greeted with flowers, shrubs, and herbs that they work to plant and care for. It is also a therapeutic haven where all of the senses are stimulated." READ MORE »

9. US, Israeli experts meet to advance disability services by Lidar Gravé-Lazi

The AXIS integrated dance company of able-bodied and disabled dancers has got the moves – here at Lod’s Ganei Aviv community center. (photo credit:US EMBASSY)

“Today in Israel there are some 10,000 people with disabilities living in institutions.

Israel Unlimited aims to create services to allow people who want to leave these institutions or their parents’ homes to live independently within the community.” READ MORE »



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Tags: Inclusion