Join a unified effort to raise disability awareness and support efforts to foster inclusion in Jewish communities worldwide
The mission of Jewish Disability Awareness Month is to unite Jewish communities and organizations for the purpose of raising awareness and supporting meaningful inclusion of people with disabilities and their families in every aspect of Jewish life. JRF is also a member religious organization of the Interfaith Disability Advocacy Coalition (IDAC: http://jfactivist.typepad.com/jfactivist/interfaith-disability-advocacy/).
During Jewish Disabilities Awareness Month You Can:
The Jewish Special Education International Consortium is a professional network of directors, coordinators and administrators of Jewish special education services in Central Agencies for Jewish Education and/or Inclusion of People with Disabilities and is affiliated with JESNA.
“Do not curse the deaf nor put stumbling blocks before the blind.” Leviticus (19:14)
The value of awareness months in general and disability awareness in particular, the fact that the Holocaust began with the Nazi T4 program of forced sterilization (and eventually murder) of individuals with disabilities, how religion in general has dealt with disability and on a more personal note how Jewish culture and community approach disability.
The MeShaneh HaBriyot, a lesser known brachah, is traditionally said when you encounter a person with a disfigurement or disability. It translates as Blessed are…..”who varies the forms of his creatures" an alternative updated translation reads … "who makes her people different" (Talmud Brachot 58b). The Talmud explains this uniqueness and the sanctity of human difference saying that “Humans stamp out many coins with one die, and they are all alike, but the King, the King of kings, the Holy One, blessed Be, stamped each person with the seal of Adam, and not one of them is like their fellow. Therefore each and every one is obliged to say, ‘For my sake the world was created.’” (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5). As with other brachot, the MeShaneh HaBriyot provides us with a moment between thought and action to be reflective and intentional. In this case mindful of our reactions to difference and how they shape our relationships and community. It is also a reminder of the value of difference and the reality that we each create (or remove) the metaphorical barriers represented by "stumbling blocks before the blind" and "cursing the deaf" noted in Leviticus. Scott Lisner, member of The Little Minyan, Columbus, OH and Americans With Disabilities Act Coordinator for The Ohio State University
For those interested in accessible Israel trips see Israel4All http://www.israel4all.com/