Today is December 15, 2019 -
In 1988, Federation received a gift from the estate of Arthur Fidler to establish a fund for the benefit of “crippled, blind or retarded Jewish children.” Recognizing the intent of the donor, coupled with the insensitivity of the outdated language, ten years later, Federation changed this language with the guidance of a school psychologist, a neurologist, a special education teacher, a physiatrist, a pediatrician, and a rheumatologist to read, “to benefit children who have significant physical, visual or developmental disabilities.” In 1998, this was a meaningful change. Are we now considered inclusive?
If we add a sign on the front door stating, “everyone welcome,” are we now inclusive? What if we add an access ramp?
Language is important. Actions are important. Goodwill is important. However, to truly be the inclusive community that we all want to be, it is going to take some education and a fair amount of work. To paraphrase a colleague, let me suggest that inclusivity is not a ramp, but rather a mindset.
Co-sponsored with Jewish Family Services and supported by many of our synagogues and Jewish partners, our community is about to embark on a major undertaking. Next month is Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month (JDAIM), and we will kick things off next Monday evening the 30th with internationally known inclusion advocate Pamela Schuller. Please see details here.
This is only the beginning. I look forward to learning together.