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Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion Month 2021

February is Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion Month (JDAIM.) Established in 2009 by the Jewish Special Education International Consortium as 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.

To that end, Emanuel Congregation shares with you this message from JDAIM Co-founder, Shelly Christensen, as well as the 2021 JDAIM Programming guide, JCC Chicago events, and a few other resources. We hope the materials and programs inspire and engage you.


2021 Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion Month

JDAIM 2021 - How You Can Build an Inclusive Community Without Walls

By Shelly Christensen

Dear Friends,

Years ago, my husband Rick and I took our three sons on a camping trip to the Black Hills of South Dakota. After the brakes of our car blew out on the trip and our idyllic campsite turned out to be downwind from the primitive restrooms, I realized how the best laid plans could go awry or at least be interrupted by things out of our control. After more mishaps I found solace in retail therapy. At a kitschy tourist trap I found a t-shirt that somehow reflected the trials and tribulations of our camping trip. The shirt read, “Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.”

The year 2020 has flashed that lesson, at least the “life is uncertain” part, so often that sometimes I think that the only certainty is uncertainty.

Since March of 2020, the Jewish community has been diligently focused on how to preserve the essential parts of our communal lives. The uncertainty in the early days of the pandemic has transformed us to reach more people through technology than we could have imagined. Organizations are laser-focused on ensuring that people with disabilities and mental health conditions have access to and can use technology to fully participate in programs, services, education, and social opportunities. We have created a Community Without Walls.

JDAIM 2021 will be observed by more organizations than ever before. The JDAIM 2021 Guide highlights many of our Community Without Walls partners who are providing virtual programs and resources for you to access.

Living as a member of the Community Without Walls is not just for some people. We must ensure that each of us, created in the image of God, feels the embrace of belonging. That much is certain.

B’Hatzlacha (with success),

Shelly Christensen, MA, FAAIDD

Co-founder of JDAIM

Co-host of Everyone’s Welcome—A Fresh Conversation About Disability

Author From Longing to Belonging—A Practical Guide to Including People with Disabilities and Mental Health Conditions in Your Faith Community



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