In this week’s Torah portion Vayekhel, Moses invites all whose heart moves them to help with the building of the sanctuary. “and everyone who was willing and whose heart moved them, came and brought an offering to the Eternal for the work on the Tent of Meeting, for all its service, and for the sacred garments. All who were willing, men and women alike, came…” (Exodus 35:21-22). This invitation has served as an important example for how the Jewish community should welcome all people into our communities.
Based on this principal, we at KI work hard to welcome groups that are often marginalized: individuals with social, emotional, and intellectual disabilities, interfaith families, LGBTQ+ Jews and their partners, students with learning differences and Jews of color. A few years ago, our congregant, Ellen Sklaroff and I started KI’s Inclusion Committee to look at our web site, mission statement, programming, and synagogue structure so that we at KI could truly reach into the hearts of all, open our doors widely, and be compassionate and caring to all.
Our members of blessed memory, Fran Nodiff and Sallie Olson, many years ago, before it was brought to the forefront, worked at KI with our members and members of the surrounding community to include children and young adults with disabilities.
This month the Jewish community celebrates JDAIM- The mission of Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion Month is to unite Jewish communities worldwide to raise awareness and champion the rights of all Jews to be included and to participate in all aspects of Jewish life like anyone else.
Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion Month (JDAIM) is a unified effort among Jewish organizations and communities worldwide to raise awareness and foster inclusion of people with disabilities and those who love them. JDAIM is a call to action to each one of us in accordance with our Jewish values, honoring the gifts and strengths that we each possess. Established in 2009 by the Jewish Special Education International Consortium, JDAIM is observed each February. This year is the 14th annual observation of JDAIM.
For many years, KI has partnered with the members of AADD (Association for Adults with Developmental Disabilities). Members of AADD will attend and participate along with KI member, Heather Michaelson. Larry Rubin, Chief Executive Officer Association for Adults with Developmental Disabilities, will update us on the Impact of the Pandemic on AADD.
Please join us this Friday, February 25 at 6:00 p.m. (KenesethIsrael.org/Stream) as we open our hearts to all and appreciate that our synagogue is built on the gifts of everyone!