February Is Jewish Disability Awareness Month

February Is Jewish Disability Awareness MonthA unified initiative among Jewish communities, Jewish Disability Awareness Month (JDAM) raises awareness and fosters support for the inclusion of people with disabilities and their families in Jewish communities worldwide.

Visit the JDAM Facebook Page »

Jewish tradition teaches us our obligation to ensure equal access for all people and to help facilitate the full participation of individuals with disabilities in religious and public life.

We are taught, “Do not separate yourself from the community” (Pirke Avot 2:5). Accordingly, we must prevent anyone from being separated against their will.

START A FAMILY DISCUSSION
In support of Jewish Disability Awareness Month, we wanted to highlight the PJ Library books that can help stimulate family discussion about people with disabilities.

 

Cakes & Miracles

Cakes & Miracles
Author: Barbara Diamond Goldin
Illustrator: Jaime Zollars

Hershel’s blindness doesn’t keep him from living life. He helps his mother by doing chores, but wishes he could do even more for her. When an angel appears in Hershel’s dream and encourages him to make what he sees when he closes his eyes, the boy sneaks into the kitchen, transforming his mother's cookie dough into beautiful hamantaschen (three-cornered fruit-filled cookies) that can be sold to raise money for the family at Purim.

Jeremy's Dreidel

Jeremy's Dreidel
Author: Ellie Gellman
Illustrator: Judith Friedman

At a dreidel-making workshop, Jeremy’s friends think he’s molding a secret code on his clay dreidel. But he’s really making a special gift for his father, who is blind. How will he get his friends to appreciate his special dreidel?

Nathan Blows Out the Hanukkah Candles

Nathan Blows Out the Hanukkah Candles
Author: Tami Lehman-Wilzig with Nicole Katzman
Illustrator: Jeremy Tugeau

Jacob loves his brother Nathan, who is autistic. When Hanukkah comes, Jacob worries that Nathan might embarrass him in front of his new friend. What if Nathan blows out the Hanukkah candles?!

 

RELATED RESOURCES FOR PURIM
In addition to the PJ Library selections above, Gateways: Access to Jewish Education offers free Purim resources for children. These resources are prepared by experienced special education teachers. The resources include Purim social stories, illustrated Purim stories for children, Purim file folder Activities, and key Purim phrases in American Sign Language.

LEARN MORE
There is no shortage of Jewish resources relating to disability and inclusion. Those below are just a starting point:

 

Union for Reform Judaism—This page offers a number of links provided with the larger goal of fostering "full participation in the spiritual, educational and communal aspects of synagogue life."

United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism—This online repository of ideas serves as "The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism's site for information about programs, services, and access that welcomes people with disabilities."

Orthodox Union—Here is a page dedicated to the announcement of North American Inclusion Month (NAIM).

Disability Rights Through a Jewish Lens—The Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism provides a full run-down of Jewish-related ideas pertaining to inclusion and disability awareness.

Matan—This New York-based non-profit focuses explicitly on providing "a space for open conversation and concrete ideas about Jewish special education."

 

 
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