According to the US Census, 1 in 5 people has some kind of learning, cognitive, physical and/or developmental disability. In the Jewish community, that number may be even higher due to genetic illnesses. February is Jewish Disability Awareness & Inclusion Month (JDAIM), a unified international initiative marking its 10th year.

“JDAIM Shabbat Across Philadelphia” was created last year by Jewish Learning Venture’s “Whole Community Inclusion” and the Jewish Disability Inclusion Consortium of Greater Philadelphia as an effort to educate and raise awareness about living with disability. Services, panels, movies and speakers will take place through the month of February at over 15 synagogues of different Jewish denominations across Greater Philadelphia.

“In order to create truly inclusive communities that are accessible for people with disabilities and their families, all community members need to better understand the complex issues facing people with disabilities—whether this personally impacts their family or not,” says Rabbi Phil Warmflash, Executive Director of Jewish Learning Venture.

 Highlights of JDAIM Shabbat Across Philadelphia include:

  • Scholar in Residence Rabbi Ruti Regan at Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El: Rabbi Regan is a conservative rabbi, ritual artist and disabled disability scholar. She will be speaking on speaking on “Using Jewish Culture to Understand Autism and Inclusion.”
  • Author and Whole Community Inclusion Director Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer at Old York Road TempleBeth Am: As part of OYRT-BA’s 8th annual “Disability Awareness and Inclusion Shabbat”, I will be sharing my book, The Little Gate-Crasher, a JDAIM Reads national book selection.
  • Composer and Playwright Andrea Green at Keneseth Israel: Green is a local composer, playwright and music therapist focused on making a difference in the lives of children with disabilities. Andrea will relate her about her wisdom and guidance to the Jewish community.

Other participating synagogues include: Beth Or, Germantown Jewish Centre, Kol Emet, Kol Tzedek, Mekor HaBracha, Melrose B’nai Israel-Emanu-El, Mishkan Shalom, Ohev Shalom of Bucks County, Or Hadash, Rodeph Shalom, Temple Sholom in Broomall, Tiferet Bet Israel and Tiferes B’nai Israel.

At Melrose B’nai Israel Emanu-El, a new specially-designed Torah table to accommodate people who use wheelchairs will be dedicated.

For more information and a full calendar of events, click here.

About Jewish Learning Venture’s Whole Community Inclusion:

 Jewish Learning Venture inspires and empowers those seeking to make Jewish life, learning and community relevant and meaningful by providing: effective, cutting-edge, professional development and leadership training; comprehensive, systemic support for increased institutional strength; and, dynamic, innovative educational and engagement programming and resources.

Whole Community Inclusion is an initiative through which Jewish Learning Venture is adapting its programs to design and deliver a system of services that engage and provide accessible experiences for people with special needs and their families, from early childhood through the transition to adulthood. Jewish Learning Venture also offers additional services and resources in collaboration with experts in the field of special needs education.