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Jewish Inclusion

In My Kehillah – Teaching Children the Jewish Value of Inclusion: By Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer

How do we create inclusive Jewish classrooms? At Jewish Learning Venture, our Whole Community Inclusion initiative approaches inclusion holistically, engaging all stakeholders including the educators, the families, clergy and synagogue leaders and of course, the students themselves. We’ve implemented a number of successful programs to support inclusion, including: [continue reading…]

A Philadelphia Yankee in Queen Elizabeth’s Court: by Carol Gould

Carol Gould wearing a pink scarf and blue shirt smiling

Carol Gould

I am honoured that Jennifer Mizrahi has asked me to write from Great Britain, where I have lived as an expatriate American for forty-five years, about being Jewish and battling stage 4 breast and lymph node cancer during Covid. I am delighted to share some of my story with you. In a future installment, I will examine the ‘dynamic’ of being disabled, fighting cancer and secular Jewish generosity in the COVID-dominated world. [continue reading…]

“Webinar of Webinars”: by Adam Bronstone

Adam Bronstone, Director of Planning, Jewish Federation and Jewish Foundation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee shares below about Nashville’s Webinar of Webinars. You can find the webinars to which Adam refers at

Disability Inclusion in the Greater Nashville Community featuring Federation partnering organizations. Wednesday, February 24 12 pm-1 pm. logos for NowGen Nashville and Jewish Federation and Jewish Foundation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee.As the pandemic forced every community to pivot to online activities and meetings, the leadership of the Inclusion Committee of the Jewish Federation and Jewish Foundation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee decided to pause its activities, believing that in-person meetings would be more beneficial that virtual meetings. Once everyone realized that the pandemic was going to be with us for a long time, the committee decided that it would be important to re-establish the inclusion committee and as a community. [continue reading…]

Turning Crisis Into Opportunity: by Howard Blas

It has been said that “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” The COVID pandemic has certainly posed tremendous vocational challenges for people with disabilities, who, despite already experiencing an employment rate less than half of people without disabilities, experienced 40% greater job loss with minimal recovery. It has also provided unprecedented opportunities—to develop skills, to continue working from home and in person (for those who currently have jobs) and to think creatively about new opportunities.

Many people with disabilities and organizations working with them have responded swiftly and creatively. Participants and families in our National Ramah Tikvah Network vocational training programs, located in our 10 Ramah camps in the US and Canada, expressed concerns about social isolation and job skills.  In response, we swiftly created TikvahNET, a vocational training and socialization program. [continue reading…]

Jewish Disability Advocacy Month is Next Month!

Before we share some exciting news, we wanted to say something about the events of the past week in Washington, D.C. The violence we witnessed on Capitol Hill was awful, unacceptable and profoundly painful. What we saw happen should never have happened and should never happen again. We also know that people might be facing mental health challenges because of these events. Please reach out if you need help. The suicide hotline is free, friendly and there for you. Call 800-273-8255.

Graphic with text - Educate. Engage. Empower. February 2021 JDAM Jewish Disability Advocacy MonthRespectAbility is excited to announce that we will be partnering with The Jewish Federations of North America’s Jewish Disability Advocacy Month. We will be hosting three Networking & Community Building Workshops. JDAM will be a month of education, solidarity-building, and empowerment of people with disabilities. We will be coming together to break down barriers to opportunity and inclusion for and with people with disabilities. [continue reading…]

Inclusion at Camp Chi: by Michelle Friedman

Michelle Friedman headshot. Text: Shabbat Smile: Inclusion at Camp ChiIt was June of 1969. I was an 11 ½ year old visually impaired girl leaving home for the first time to attend Jewish overnight camp. I boarded the train to Wisconsin consumed with mixed emotions: already a little homesick and anxious, but also excited. I was excited about the friends coming from my Jewish Day school, and the new friends I hope to meet. At that moment, I was just like them—leaving home to spend three fun-filled weeks at summer camp.

It was a disaster. [continue reading…]

Mental Health and COVID-19: by Dr. Hilla Hadas, CEO of Enosh

Hilla Hadas smiling headshot seated in front of a tree

Hilla Hadas

My name is Doctor Hilla Hadas, and I am the CEO of Enosh – The Israeli Mental Health Association. As organizations throughout the world are figuring out how to accomplish their missions in this time of COVID-19, I am pleased to talk about how we did this at Enosh, and how we worked to serve the changing mental health needs of our service users.

Enosh promotes the recovery, social inclusion, and rights of people with psychosocial disabilities and their families in Israel. Enosh is the largest mental health organization in Israel with 70 service centers that deliver comprehensive and groundbreaking community based mental health programs in the domains of housing, employment, social recreation, and family counseling. Enosh programs are based on the Recovery Model principles, which upholds functional disability; i.e., patients can lead a meaningful life in the community, despite persistent symptoms, and discover new abilities and interests. We also work to reduce the self-inflicted stigma and the societal stigma towards people with mental illness and their family members. [continue reading…]

Reflections on an Accessible Trip to Israel

Blair Webb smiling headshot seated in a chair

Blair Webb

I am a Jewish Inclusion Fellow at RespectAbility, but I’ve always had a complicated relationship with my Jewish identity. I have always enjoyed eating potato latkes at Hanukkah, and appreciated the ritual of reevaluating oneself during the time between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, but I know very little about Judaism, beyond these cultural touchstones. Some of this is because a childhood seizure disorder kept me from Hebrew school, but it’s also due to my uncertainty of my belief in God. It’s hard to reconcile God with the injustice in the world, such as abuse, cancer, despair, homelessness, hunger, hate crimes, violence. Yet, my Jewish heritage enabled me to travel to another country without my parents for the first time in my life…to Israel. It changed me in many ways. [continue reading…]

Don’t Forget Women with Disabilities in Women’s Leadership Programs

Those who follow the work of RespectAbility know that Lauren Appelbaum, our VP of Communications, is the incredible dynamic force behind our Hollywood Inclusion work. Lauren is also a deeply committed Jew, a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary, and a superstar Jewish mom. It’s perhaps not surprising, therefore, that Jewish Women International chose Lauren to be part of its highly selective leadership cohort. Lauren is not just an amazing Jewish leader however, she is a remarkable Jewish leader with a disability, a living testament to the types of leaders that Jews with disabilities can be. In this column from the Jewish Journal, Lauren reminds us about the importance of including Jewish women with disabilities in our efforts to develop Jewish women leaders. I know that I and the rest of the RespectAbility team benefit every day from Lauren’s leadership. As you read the following article, consider how you might follow her example, and the example set by JWI, such that our Jewish community and society at large can benefit from this type of leadership. [continue reading…]

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