Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Jewish Disabilities Awareness Month

Yikes!  My Jewish calendar has been staring at me all month, and I did not notice until now that February is Jewish Disabilities Awareness Month!  Talk about unaware....

So here is what my calendar says about it:

"Do not curse the deaf nor put a stumbling block before the blind." - Leviticus 19:14

Jewish law and tradition requires that we not only assist individuals with disabilities, but also enable them to reach their potential and protect their self-esteem.  The mission of Jewish Disabilities Awareness Month, begun in 2009, is to encourage synagogues and Jewish organizations to support the full inclusion of people with special needs in all aspects of Jewish life.  Many synagogues schedule "Disabilities Shabbat," featuring the participation of children and adults with disabilities.  Other sponsor programs to lobby for disability rights.

Congregations throughout North America have taken steps to remove barriers to worship, whether architectural (ramps, handrails, wider doorways, grab bars in the restroom, accessible parking) or communicative (assistive listening devices, sign language interpreters, large-print materials, braille prayerbooks).

My congregation is actually pretty good on this stuff, although there is certainly room for improvement.  There are several adults and children with disabilities who are fully participating members of the community.

Since there is only one Shabbat left in February, and it's Purim eve, I don't know how much we can incorporate into it this year.  Hopefully we can at least plant a seed for next year?  Maybe brainstorm about what kinds of projects or activities would be apporpriate?

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