Celebrate disability inclusion this February with these local (virtual) events

Jewish Disability Awareness & Inclusion Month (JDAIM) is here! Even though this year’s programming will be virtual, February is still jam packed with opportunities to learn and celebrate disability inclusion in our local Jewish community.

Programming presented 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


Whole Community Inclusion: A Deep Dive into Anxiety

Monday, February 1, 2021 | 7:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Anxiety is one of the most common emotional challenges students face today and it can make wonderful children feel weak, small, and vulnerable. In this presentation, you will discover the counter-intuitive support strategies used by experts. You will learn how to compassionately normalize anxiety for your students, how to quiet the uncomfortable physical symptoms of stress and even how to send unwanted anxious thoughts packing. To register, click here. 

JDAIM Shabbat: Morning Service

Saturday, February 6, 2021 | 9:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

Join Mekor Habracha for a sermon on Parshat Yitro and what it can teach us about disability. To register, please contact Julia Rafsky at mekorhabracha@gmail.com before February 5. A link for a podcast of the sermon will be sent to registrants.

JDAIM Shabbat: Shabbat Learning During Services
All Senses, All Superpowers

Saturday, February 6, 2021 |  9:45 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

Join Adath Israel to kick off our community’s awareness of the importance of inclusion during JDAIM, we take the first sermon of the month to consider the experience of the People of Israel at Mount Sinai: The Torah describes this moment as one that enveloped all of the senses, and included all of the people – not only in that generation but all generations! How might the experience we imagine from the story of Mount Sinai model the way we bring people into our community’s life? To get access to the Zoom link, click here


Everyone’s Welcome
A Critical Conversation About Mental Health and Substance Abuse

Tuesday, February 9, 2021 | 1:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Pastor Dave Eckert of Access Services – Intersect, and Gabrielle Spatt of The Blue Dove Foundation discuss supporting people with mental health conditions in faith communities. This event is co-hosted by Inclusion Innovations. To register, click here

JDAIM Clergy Gathering with Rabbi Darby Leigh

Wednesday, February 10, 2021 | 9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

Rabbis and cantors are invited to a special training about disability advocacy and inclusion with Rabbi Darby Leigh. Rabbi Darby Jared Leigh is the Rabbi of Congregation Kerem Shalom in Concord, MA, and is committed to creating an inclusive, caring community with intellectual honesty and spiritual depth. Honored as one of The Forward’s “most inspiring rabbis of 2016,” Rabbi Leigh is a truth seeker, a passionate snowboarder and a former leading actor with the Tony award-winning National Theater of the Deaf. He was featured in the televised, Emmy-nominated documentary A Place For All: Faith And Community For People With Disabilities. Tablet Magazine listed him as one of “15 American Rabbis You Haven’t Heard Of But Should.” To register, click here.

JDAIM Shabbat: Look Into My Eyes

Friday, February 12, 2021 | 6:00 p.m.  –  7:00 p.m.

Join Kol Emet to hear from guest speaker Rabbi Judith Abrahamson about recognizing the gifts that people with disabilities have to offer Jewish community. For more information and to register, please contact Alexis Miller at amiller@kolemet.org.

JDAIM Shabbat: Disability Inclusion and the Jewish Community

Friday, February 12, 2021, from 6:30 p.m.  –  7:30 p.m.

Join Shir Ami to hear from Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer, Acting Co-Executive Director of Jewish Learning Venture, speak about general inclusion efforts in synagogues and begin to help our congregation understand what we can do to improve our inclusion and accessibility efforts in our building and our programs. For more information and to register, please contact Jodi Friedman at Jafriedman@shiramipa.org.

JDAIM Shabbat: Fighting Stigma
Creating A More Inclusive Jewish Community

Friday, February 12, 2021 | 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Join Congregation Beth El – Ner Tamid to hear from Rebecca Salus, Program Director of FamilyMatters, discuss the importance of our Jewish community embracing and supporting families facing challenges, such as mental illness and substance abuse. She will also highlight the importance of asking for help during times of stress and crisis. To register, click here.

JDAIM Shabbat: Tikvah Shabbat Service

Saturday, February 13, 2021 | 9:00 a.m.

Join Camp Ramah in the Poconos for a Shabbat morning service led by and geared for kids and young adults with special needs, and their families. For more information, please contact Tikvah Director Orlee Krass at orleek@ramahpoconos.org. To register, click here

JDAIM Shabbat: Mental Health and Our Community

Saturday, February 13, 2021 | 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Everyone’s welcome! Join Mishkan Shalom for an inclusive Shabbat morning service that will feature a talk by Dr. Mark Salzer of Temple University about his groundbreaking research on mental health and the importance of faith communities.

For more information and to register, please contact Maria Paranzino at maria@mishkan.org.

JDAIM Inclusion Shabbat Featuring Kitah Aleph and Bet

Saturday, February 13, 2021 | 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Please join the Kesher Israel Congregation community for a special inclusion Shabbat featuring the Aleph and Bet students. We are honored to have guest Darshanit Joanie Calem to speak to us about her work in inclusion and disability awareness through music with a Jewish lens.

For more information and to register, please contact  Kesher Israel Congregation at shalom@kesher-israel.org.

JDAIM Shabbat: A Disabled Artist’s Journey Through Art & Activism

Sunday, February16, 2021 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Join Germantown Jewish Centre to hear from Wendy Elliott-Vandivier, an artist and long-time disability advocate, present information on her experiences as an artist and disability activist. As part of her presentation, she will show examples of her cartoons that focus on disability awareness and some of the microaggressions and barriers that disabled people experience as they try to live their ordinary, “un-inspirational” lives. As a member of the Jewish community in Philadelphia, she will also talk about some of the ways that synagogues can be welcoming and inclusive for people with disabilities. For more information and to register, please contact Kate Lawn at program@germantownjewishcentre.org.

Whole Community Inclusion: Purim Fun!

Sunday, February16, 2021 | 4:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Purim fun for kids of all abilities! Join jkidphilly for music, storytime and a fun craft to get ready for Purim. Register by February 5 to receive craft materials that we’ll use during the event. An ASL interpreter will be present. To register, click here


Making the World More Accessible in the Time of COVID

Monday, February 15, 2021 | 12:00 p.m.

Join the Jewish Federation’s Jewish Community Relations Council for a conversation with Stacy Levitan, Executive Director JCHAI, and Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer, Acting Co-Executive Director of Jewish Learning Venture. Stacy and Gabrielle will describe their agencies, the people they serve and what they are doing to ensure that their communities are remaining engaged during the time of COVID. To register, click here.

Brunch and Belonging Series

Tuesday, February 16, 2021 | 11:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

The Jewish Disability Consortium of Greater Philadelphia invites you to take a break from work – grab a coffee or nosh – and learn with us from an expert in the field.

In this presentation, disability advocate Shelly Christensen defines the concept of ‘belonging’ and how it relates to the lives of people with disabilities, their family members and all of us who are part of faith communities. To register, click here

JDAIM Shabbat Featuring Jodi Newmark, Guest Speaker

Friday, February 19, 2021  6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Our Shabbat service will include readings and music that are disability-inclusion focused, and we will welcome Jodi Newmark, from Encompass Chicago. She will speak about the personal and professional impacts of the pandemic on the disability community, specifically young adults with disabilities. For more information, please contact Cantor Faryn Rudnick at frudnick@mlrt.org or call MLRT at 610-649-7800. To access the Zoom link, click here

JDAIM Shabbat: Services with Congregation Beth El

Saturday, February 20, 2021 |  9:30 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.

How can we make our community more accessible and inclusive? Come mark Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance & Inclusion Month with Congregation Beth El of Bucks County, as we hear from a speaker and consider the important themes of Shabbat Zakhor, raising up those who are often marginalized and forgotten. For more information, please contact Rabbi Raysh Weiss at Rabbirayshweiss@gmail.com. To access the Zoom link, click here.

JDAIM Conversation with Kalman Samuels of SHALVA

Sunday, February 21, 2021 | 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

How is disability inclusion happening in Israel today? How do individuals with disabilities live with purpose and possibility? Kalman Samuels of SHALVA explains these issues – and more – in conversation and dialogue via Zoom. Come learn about how one innovative Israeli organization leads the way! Sponsored by the Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El Inclusion Committee and Adath Israel. For more information and to register, please contact Ken Krivitsky, Executive Director of Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El, at kkrivitsky@tbhbe.org


To see a full list of local JDAIM events, click here. To see The Jewish Federations of North America’s national programming, visit jewishtogether.org/jdam.