By Rabbi Michelle Greenfield, WCI Consultant

Last Thursday, ten rabbis gathered at Jewish Learning Venture to share breakfast and learn together in honor of Jewish Disability Awareness Month.  This was a powerfully diverse group, with a wide range of experiences and learning about inclusion.  We acknowledged our successes and the progress our communities have made over the past years including special educators in religious schools, American Sign Language interpreters on the Bimah, and forming inclusion committees.  We also acknowledged the barriers that we still see.  Each rabbi left with a sense of how he/she could reduce barriers to participation in their own communities for people with disabilities and a stronger sense of how to begin congregational conversations about disability awareness.

All of us who showed up early on a Thursday morning were there because we want to do what we can.  Changes cannot be made only by rabbis, but I hope that this moment sends a powerful message.  The leaders of our Jewish communities are ready to learn.  We are ready to ask questions, to look for the right language, and to think about how our communities can be more inclusive.  We look forward to welcoming Inclusion Committee volunteers for a conversation on Thursday, February 19th and Executive Directors for a conversation on Thursday, February 26th.  We hope that these conversations will continue long after Jewish Disability Awareness Month is over and that we can work together to build awareness and inclusion in our communities.