What is Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month? 5 Ways to Participate
For more than 10 years, much of the worldwide Jewish community has observed Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month (JDAIM), a unified initiative to raise disability awareness and support efforts to foster inclusion in Jewish communities worldwide. Each February, we join to advocate for inclusion of people with disabilities and mental health conditions to be active, engaged participants in Jewish life.
Of course, there is nothing uniquely Jewish about disabilities, nor is there a greater need for inclusion in February than in any other month. So why observe Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month this February?
Writes Rabbi Edythe Held Mencher, the director of the Union for Reform Judaism’s Presidential Initiative for Disabilities Inclusion:
[It] is Jewish to cherish each and every life and to support every struggle for dignity and justice; it is Jewish to work directly with each person and each family to find out what they need to be able to learn, pray, find friends, feel a sense of belonging, and contribute to the shaping and sustaining of community; it is Jewish to dispel prejudices and misconceptions that contribute to isolation, underemployment, and lack of human rights.
When Reform congregations observe Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month together in February, we join with other Jews across North America to make February a month to rededicate ourselves to creating a truly inclusive Jewish community.
Here are just a few of the many ways you can prepare for Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month and determine how you’ll participate:
1. Learn more, prepare for the month, and tap into resources.
Download Inclusion Innovations’ annual JDAIM program guide, which includes Jewish texts, programming ideas, pop culture commentary, and so much more. The organization puts out a new and updated guide each year.
2. Become a better ally.
People both with and without disabilities will benefit from “5 Ways to Be an Ally to People with Disabilities.” Of course, let us know if you have additional ideas or feedback!
3. Advocate for people with disabilities.
The Jewish Disability Network, a coalition of more than two dozen Jewish organizations working for disability rights, hosts an annual Jewish Disability Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C., and in Canada. Even if you’re unable to attend, you can be an advocate from afar by learning about the legislation the coalition supports. Learn more at rac.org/disabilities.
4. Lead your congregation in disability inclusion efforts.
If you attend or work in a synagogue or other Jewish communal setting, check out Rabbi Edythe Held Mencher's piece, "11 Ways to Celebrate Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month in Your Synagogue," to bring JDAIM’s values to your community in February and all year long. Follow the Union for Reform Judaism’s Inside Leadership blog for additional, congregational-related JDAIM stories throughout the month.
5. Follow along.
Check out and use #JDAIM19 on Twitter and Instagram to follow along and join the conversations all month long – and communicate with us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram to tell us how you’re observing this important month.