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Clockwise: Wheelchair basketball; Hebrew sign language signs; The Shalva Band; an inclusion bunk at Camp Ramah in the Poconos. All images courtesy/collage by Clarissa Hamilton/JW
Clockwise: Wheelchair basketball; Hebrew sign language signs; The Shalva Band; an inclusion bunk at Camp Ramah in the Poconos. All images courtesy/collage by Clarissa Hamilton/JW

10 Short, But Important Reads for Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion Month

February is known as Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance & Inclusion Month (JDAIM) — the Jewish community’s unified national initiative to raise disability awareness and support efforts to foster inclusion in Jewish communities worldwide. Throughout the year on The New Normal: Blogging Disability, we are proud to focus on the voices of people with disabilities as well as their family members, educators, advocates and community members speaking about disability and Jewish life. Still, we appreciate how JDAIM shines an extra light on the importance of disability inclusion throughout the month and hope that you’ll read these 10 short essays from New Normal contributors.

Some may be topics that you are very familiar with. Others may raise concerns that you haven’t yet thought about. To create a Jewish community that welcomes, supports and advocates for all people, we all need to grow in our knowledge and awareness. I hope that you’ll read, comment and share these articles online and with your own communities so we can begin the discussions and the work that needs to be done. I am so grateful that The Jewish Week has made an important commitment to disability inclusion, and to you, our readers, for opening your minds, hearts and perspectives.

Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer
Editor, The New Normal

Learning How to Love and Let Go

The author and her family. Courtesy of Heidi Rome
Heidi Rome pens a powerful parent to parent message. “As parents we must guide, teach and protect our children — but we cannot live their lives for them,” she writes.

B’nai Mitzvah for all Young People

The author’s son and family at his Bar Mitzvah. Courtesy of Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer
A Bar/Bat Mitzvah is the moment to celebrate every child. Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer writes about how increasing numbers of clergy and educators are innovating with creative ways to make the synagogue service meaningful for everyone.

Life After 21 for a Young Adult with Cognitive Disabilities

The author and her family. Courtesy of Nina Mogilnik

When young people with cognitive disabilities turn 21 they age out of the state school system. What lies ahead? Nina Mogilnik considers what’s next for her son.

‘Belonging’ Means More Than Just Inclusion

Shelly Christensen

‘Lip-service-inclusion’ is not enough. Advocate Shelly Christensen (and founder of JDAIM) makes the case for making our congregations places where everyone belongs.

This JDAIM, Let’s Commit to Being the Disability Community’s Allies

Alanna Raffel
Advocating for disability rights shouldn’t only be the concern of people with disabilities and their families. Alanna Raffel shares ways that everyone can step up to the plate.

Most People Can’t Name a Jewish Leader with a Disability. Here’s How We Can Change That

Disabilities advocate Matan Koch: “Now we must turn to embrace Jews with disabilities as our rabbis, cantors and lay leaders. Courtesy of Matan Koch
A recent survey showed that less than 15 percent of Jews could identify a single Jewish community leader with a disability. Matan Koch addresses how to change that.

Jewish Education for Students with Disabilities is Improving, But we Need to Increase the Pace

An illustrative photo of an American classroom. Shutterstock.

There is good news. Lisa Friedman writes: More and more educators aren’t asking ‘why,’ but rather ‘how’ they can serve students with disabilities. But there is still much to do.


How we Can Create Equal Opportunities for Deaf, Hard of Hearing People

Rabbi Rebecca Dubowe

Rabbi Rebecca Dubowe on creating a wider bridge of accessibility and connection between the deaf and hard of hearing community, and the general population.


The Kashrut of Online Accessibility

Stock image/CC Pxhere

Accessibility professional Sharon Rosenblatt offers an easy, step-by-step guide to making your websites, applications and documents more user-friendly and inclusive for people with disabilities.


It’s Summertime, and the Living is Easy — and Inclusive

Inclusion at Camp Ramah in the Poconos. Courtesy of Oz Isseroff
Inclusive Jewish summer camp options for children and young adults with disabilities now abound. Howard Blas looks at the options.



This section was produced by Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer and Miriam Groner.
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