Editor’s Note: This is a message from Shelly Christensen MA, FAAIDD, Senior Director of Faith Inclusion and Belonging, RespectAbility, a recent guest on the Seekers of Meaning TV Show and Podcast.
As a co-founder and resource organizer for JDAIM since the beginning, I was thrilled to bring that work to RespectAbility when I was hired as the Senior Director of Faith Inclusion and Belonging in April. JDAIM has a new home at RespectAbility! My incredible team and I have been working since the summer to create resources and programs for JDAIM 2023.
The 2023 JDAIM Guide has a new look. It’s full of timely information including programming ideas, planning tips, and practical ways to increase accessibility, ensuring that all people feel they belong. Visit the JDAIM website to access free logos for all your event materials.
The popular JDAIM Reads is back and I’m sure you will love the selections. We are featuring two books by iconic disability rights activist, Judy Heumann. Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist is an incredible story, and my husband and I loved listening to the brilliant Ali Stroker narrate the audiobook. Judy has also written a marvelous version of the book for teens: Rolling Warrior: The Incredible, Sometimes Awkward True Story of a Rebel Girl on Wheels Who Helped Spark a Revolution. We also are featuring books about mental health, friendship, bullying, and belonging for kids of all ages.
JDAIM Films features two films written and produced by disabled filmmakers. What Do You Pray For? by Ben Rosloff asks the titular question of multiple interview subjects, and the responses demonstrate that spirituality, faith, and community are universally important. You can also answer the question – learn how to submit your answer at the website. You’re also in for a treat with the feature length documentary by filmmaker Aaron Wolf, Restoring Tomorrow, which discusses the history and restoration of the Wilshire Blvd. Temple in Los Angeles. Aaron, who identifies as neurodivergent, weaves his personal journey of rediscovery in the film.
Find JDAIM on Facebook and Instagram. Share your program ideas and promotions, pictures of events, and media mentions! We want to know what your community or organization is doing in recognition of JDAIM.
JDAIM has changed the landscape, but inclusion is not fully realized for many people living with a disability or mental health condition. One month out of the year is not enough! What you do the other eleven months can make all the difference to a person who wants to feel a sense of belonging to the Jewish community.
The Faith Inclusion and Belonging team at RespectAbility can offer guidance on what your next steps are. I encourage you to drop an email to me at ShellyC@RespectAbility.org with your questions. Let us know what you’re thinking for JDAIM and the other eleven months!
Shelly Christensen MA, FAAIDD
Senior Director of Faith Inclusion and Belonging, RespectAbility
Author, From Longing to Belonging – A Practical Guide to Including People with Disabilities and Mental Health Conditions in Your Faith Community