The current Israel-Hamas war is impacting communities throughout Israel, Gaza, and the world. However, some populations are more affected than others, including those living with disabilities.
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July is Disability Pride Month. I’ve been living with disabilities for more than 20 years, but I’m just beginning to imagine being proud of my disability.
Temple Israel is engaged in a REDI culture shift, striving to be a synagogue that exemplifies our belief in b’tzelem Elohim (shared humanity) by creating a community where everyone feels a sense of belonging. Our New Year’s party came from the idea that while this work can be challenging, it is a joy to lift up the diversity and unique lived experiences of those in our community. Following this theme of celebrating our diversity, we began planning our inaugural Shavuot to Juneteenth: A Journey Toward Liberation.
Living most of my life in a hearing world – as a not-fully hearing person – has been my “normal” living experience. I don’t know any other way of being. I suspect there is a different way of living because everyone around me tells me so – they imagine that my life must be so hard, how I must cope (what are my choices??). At one point, I tried to connect to the Deaf community. Between not being fluent in American Sign Language and being able to live in the hearing world, I didn’t feel welcome – although I learned a lot about myself as a less-than-fully-hearing person in a hearing world. A few years ago, when I went from hard of hearing to deaf, I decided that I would be just that, “deaf” without the capital “D”. I am now a deaf person living in a hearing world (as opposed to a Deaf person with connections to the Deaf community).
The Passover seder is about telling our story, which is often done by communally reading the Haggadah, a written collection of stories, rituals, and commentary. Without accessible options, people with various disabilities are prevented from fully participating in the seder.
Throughout the Torah, we are instructed to move through the world with an extraordinary degree of mindfulness to the experience of others; we, too, were slaves to Pharoah in Egypt. We, as Jews, are implored by the divine to notice that which others might not observe and to advocate for one another because we know what it is to be somehow exceptional.
My Hebrew name is Emunah, and I have autistic spectrum disorder (ASD).
The Union for Reform Judaism, Jewish Grandparents Network, and Keshet are collaborating on a series of conversations to support grandparents and other loving adults who are interested in providing affirming spaces for gender expansive, non-binary, and transgender young people. These sessions provide grandparents with foundational knowledge, shared language, and inclusive practices.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) in the U.S. Each of us likely knows someone, either in our Jewish community or our secular communities, who has been impacted by or is a survivor of domestic violence.
Emily Ladau is a Jewish disability rights activist, writer, storyteller, and digital communications consultant. We sat down with Emily to chat about how Jewish values inform her work and what employers, employees, and coworkers can do to proactively affirm people with disabilities in the workplace.