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Faith Inclusion and Belonging Newsletter

During this Mental Health Awareness month, I’ve been reflecting on how faith communities address mental health needs and become more inclusive in this area. While there still is a need for more education and decreasing stigma about mental health, it is encouraging to see more communities being willing to discuss these topics and offer ways [click to continue...]

In the disability community, we know that mental health-related disabilities are disabilities. It still feels like the rest of the world has yet to catch up. As a person of faith myself who has mental health-related disabilities along with fellow family members, I have wondered why this identity disparity existed between mental health conditions and [click to continue...]

Ben Spangenberg is the Senior Manager of RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program. Ben was born with Spina Bifida in Long Beach, California in 1981. His mother had amniocentesis, but the test got switched and his development was seen to be within the ‘normal’ range. They did not confirm his diagnosis until his mother went into labor. [click to continue...]

As the program manager of the Minneapolis Jewish Community Inclusion Program for People with Disabilities for 13 years, I was invited to speak about the program at numerous Jewish community events. I spoke about changing attitudes and fighting stigma to advance inclusion. Following many presentations, someone from the audience waited to speak to me, waiting [click to continue...]

Neil Jacobson may not have known, but he was my teacher. Neil Jacobson was one of the earliest pioneers in Jewish disability inclusion and belonging. His grassroots advocacy and action in his own congregation became a call to action for other synagogues and Jewish organizations in the Reform movement and beyond. Neil’s influence and his [click to continue...]

I interviewed Neil and Denise Jacobson, following a Jewish community screening of the film, “Crip Camp.” They were featured in the film along with Neil’s childhood friend, Judy Heumann, of blessed memory. Neil was a child of Shoah (Holocaust) survivors. Neil described his father as “the happiest, friendliest, most easy-going guy I have yet to [click to continue...]

When I think of the meaning of “a community of belonging,” it is the community that Keshet has created, particularly at camp. Each summer I sit in the picnic grove at camp, and I look out at our camp community with hundreds of disabled and non-disabled campers and staff and get overwhelmed with emotions. The [click to continue...]

We at RespectAbility’s Faith Inclusion and Belonging department know firsthand the importance of faith-based summer camps for providing spiritual and community formation. One might believe the work of faith inclusion is limited to what we do in worship services together, but as we learned from our recent webinar with Tammy Besser and Sarah McKenney, what [click to continue...]

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