Get Involved: Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month

Courtesy of Philly Friendship Circle

During the month of February, Jewish communities around the world will observe Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month.

Locally, there will be a number of programs and learning opportunities hosted by Jewish Learning Venture’s Whole Community Inclusion initiative and the Jewish Special Needs/Disability Awareness Consortium of Greater Philadelphia, which includes the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.

“There has never been a more important time to shine a light on issues of disability inclusion, access and advocacy in our Jewish community,” said Chief Program Officer Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer of the Jewish Learning Venture, supported by the Jewish Federation. “As we look at inclusion from the broadest perspective, the rights of people with disabilities need to be front and center. One in four people have a physical, cognitive, developmental, learning, mental health and/or multiple disabilities, and we can and must take the necessary steps to create full access in our Jewish communities.”

Check out the following ways to get involved both in-person and virtually throughout the month to help make a more inclusive and welcoming community for all. See the full list at

Wednesday, Feb. 1 – Sunday, Feb. 12
JDAIM Shabbat: Featuring Author
Arielle Silverman
Friday, Feb. 10 | 6:30-7:45 p.m.
Main Line Reform Temple
Join Arielle Silverman for a presentation about her book, “Just Human: The Quest for Disability Wisdom, Respect, and Inclusion.” The service will also include music and readings that speak to the theme of JDAIM.

JDAIM Shabbat: The Mental Health Crisis Among Our Youth – How to Talk to & Help Your Children

Friday, Feb. 10 | 7-9 p.m.
Congregation Kol Ami
Join Congregation Kol Ami for a discussion on the youth mental health crisis and provide families with tools to help deal with what their children are experiencing. The speakers will engage in age-appropriate discussion of mental health concerns and enjoy a performance by the Student Choir. This will be an open, important conversation without shame or judgment. Children are welcome at this service.

jkidaccess: Sensory-Friendly Sunday at the Museum!
Sunday, Feb. 12 | 3-5 p.m.
Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History
Join jkidaccess for a fun, interactive afternoon at the museum! To make the afternoon accessible for children with sensory sensitivity, the audio media at the museum will be turned to a low volume. Participants will enjoy crafts, a story time and a kid-friendly gallery walk.

Monday, Feb. 13 – Sunday, Feb. 19
The Torah of Disability
Tuesday, Feb. 14 | 3-4 p.m.
Join Rabbi Elliot Kukla for an impactful hour for clergy to gather with their peers during Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion month. Participants will look at the writing of contemporary disabled activists like Mia Mingus and Leah Lakshmi Piepezna-Samarsinha on the topic of disability access. A passage of the Talmud will also be read to uncover a Jewish spirituality of accessibility. This event is for rabbis and clergy only.

JDAIM Community Forum: Judaism, Mental Health & Gratitude
Sunday, Feb. 15 | 7-8:15 p.m.
Join the Jewish Disability Inclusion Consortium of Greater Philadelphia for a meaningful evening with the Blue Dove Foundation focusing on mental health and the Jewish value of gratitude. Participants will have the opportunity to meet representatives from the consortium agencies and learn about how the Jewish Learning Venture supports people with disabilities and their loved ones.
Including All Students: Attention and Regulation Strategies

Thursday, Feb. 16 | 7:30-8:30 p.m.
Join Alanna Raffel, OTD, OTR/L, for an evening of learning about ways to support students around attention and regulation. Students with attention and regulation issues often need extra support in a classroom. This program seeks to turn attention to the Jewish value of including and educating all children.

Monday, Feb. 20 – Tuesday, Feb. 28
Hello Darkness, My Old Friend: A Discussion with Inventor, Entrepreneur and Author Sanford Greenberg
Tuesday, Feb. 21 | 7-8 p.m.
Join JFCS and Jewish Learning Venture for an intimate and engaging discussion with inventor, author, public servant and philanthropist Sanford D. Greenberg. At the age of 19, Sanford lost his sight. Through the help of his close friend, the legendary Art Garfunkel, he began to re-engage with the world and find his way through the darkness. From there, Greenberg went on to have a remarkable career, including serving as an adviser to four different presidents. Participants will hear a first-hand account of how living with a disability has shaped Greenberg’s life and dive into his deeply personal new memoir, “Hello Darkness, My Old Friend: How Daring Dreams and Unyielding Friendship Turned One Man’s Blindness into an Extraordinary Vision for Life.”

JDAIM Shabbat: Featuring Sawah Sharma
Friday, Feb. 24 | 7-8:15 p.m.
Shir Ami
Join Shir Ami for a special Shabbat service with Sarah Sharma to learn about their family’s journey to see their son become a bar mitzvah.

To see the full JDAIM listing and registration details, visit


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