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Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance & Inclusion Month

A Message from Shelly Christensen, Co-Founder of JDAIM

Shelly Christensen smiling headshot

Shelly Christensen

I am excited to share some big news about Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month (JDAIM)!

For those who don’t know, JDAIM is a unified effort among Jewish organizations worldwide to raise awareness and make a commitment to foster acceptance and inclusion so people with disabilities and mental health conditions and those who love them feel a sense of belonging, like anyone else. Every February, JDAIM is a call to action to each one of us to act in accordance with our Jewish values, honoring the gifts and strengths that we each possess.

In 2009, I co-founded JDAIM with the Jewish Special Education Consortium. It was a watershed moment in the Jewish disability inclusion movement! JDAIM was the first time Jewish local and national organizations in eight communities came together to raise awareness and elevate the voices of people living with disabilities.

Participation grew each year and JDAIM became a global grassroots phenomenon. The iconic JDAIM logo graces program announcements, email blasts, and websites. It has grown beyond anything the founders could have imagined!

Throughout the first thirteen years I managed the JDAIM webpage, social media, branding, and produced the annual JDAIM Program Guide. I enjoyed my volunteer role and found so much joy in all the ways Jewish organizations and communities raised awareness and set expectations for inclusion and belonging over the other 11 months!

In May, I became the first person to hold the role of Senior Director of Faith Inclusion and Belonging at RespectAbility, a national nonprofit that works to fight stigmas and advance opportunities so people can fully participate in all aspects of community. With my move to RespectAbility, JDAIM has come with me. I now have a team working with me, including a Faith Inclusion Associate and several Faith Inclusion Apprentices.

In the coming weeks, you can expect exciting announcements about 2023 JDAIM Book Club Selections and Film Recommendations, the 2023 JDAIM program guide, and information about engaging speakers and program planning. And that’s just the beginning!

Now that the High Holidays are over, many of you are thinking about JDAIM programs. We’d love to help you! Email Jake Stimell, RespectAbility’s Disability Training and Speakers Bureau Associate, at [email protected]. Or you can email me at [email protected].

Be sure to follow the JDAIM Facebook page and the JDAIM Instagram page for more updates. I am very excited about the future of JDAIM and Jewish disability inclusion, and I hope you are as well!

Warm Regards,

Shelly Christensen
Senior Director of Faith Inclusion and Belonging, RespectAbility

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