#BlogElul 5: Know – When You Know Inclusion Works


As we come to the “official” end of summer this Labor Day Weekend, despite being excited for the new school year and new Jewish year ahead, I’m not quite ready to let the joys of summer go completely. And so, I thought it would be the perfect time to take a look back at some wonderful examples showcasing Jewish summer camp inclusion written earlier this summer:
 

How the Micro World of Summer Camp Prepared Me for Full Inclusion in Society – Matan Koch is a “A Jewish Lawyer with a Disability who Blogs on Life, Judaism, Disability and Whatever.” His personal experiences as a camper at URJ Camp Eisner (a Reform Jewish summer camp) serve as a model of camp inclusion done right.


Havdala – The Best Time of the Week – This article, which ran on the Ruderman Family Foundation’s blog, highlights inclusion at Camp Ramah California.

Who’s Your Aaron? Finding a Community of Support at URJ 6 Points Sci Tech Academy – I had the good fortune of serving on faculty during the inaugural summer of the URJ 6 Points Sci Tech Academy and was deeply impressed. This article originally ran on the Sci Tech blog and was picked up by the NY Jewish Week’s New Normal Blog.

These examples broadcast to the world what those of us intimately connected with inclusion already know – inclusion works!

To celebrate successful inclusion opportunities at Jewish summer camps, The Ruderman Family Foundation, in partnership with The National Ramah Tikvah Network and the Foundation for Jewish Camp, introduces Tiptoe 2014: The Inclusion Project – Through Our Eyes.

I hope that many, many campers who know that inclusion works will take the opportunity to share their experiences. 



This post is a part of the month-long series #BlogElul. The Jewish month of Elul, which precedes the High Holy Days, is traditionally a time of renewal and reflection. We look to begin the year with a clean slate, starting anew, refreshed. All month, along with others, I'll be blogging a thought or two for each day to help with the month of preparation...
- See more at: http://jewishspecialneeds.blogspot.com/#sthash.kGouz1Yo.dpuf


This post is a part of the month-long series #BlogElul. The Jewish month of Elul, which precedes the High Holy Days, is traditionally a time of renewal and reflection. We look to begin the year with a clean slate, starting anew, refreshed. All month, along with others, I'll be blogging a thought or two for each day to help with the month of preparation...


This post is a part of the month-long series #BlogElul. The Jewish month of Elul, which precedes the High Holy Days, is traditionally a time of renewal and reflection. We look to begin the year with a clean slate, starting anew, refreshed. All month, along with others, I'll be blogging a thought or two for each day to help with the month of preparation...
- See more at: http://jewishspecialneeds.blogspot.com/#sthash.kGouz1Yo.dpuf



This post is a part of the month-long series #BlogElul. The Jewish month of Elul, which precedes the High Holy Days, is traditionally a time of renewal and reflection. We look to begin the year with a clean slate, starting anew, refreshed. All month, along with others, I'll be blogging a thought or two for each day to help with the month of preparation... - See more at: http://jewishspecialneeds.blogspot.com/#sthash.kGouz1Yo.dpuf




This post is a part of the month-long series #BlogElul. The Jewish month of Elul, which precedes the High Holy Days, is traditionally a time of renewal and reflection. We look to begin the year with a clean slate, starting anew, refreshed. All month, along with others, I'll be blogging a thought or two for each day to help with the month of preparation... - See more at: http://jewishspecialneeds.blogspot.com/#sthash.kGouz1Yo.dpuf



This post is a part of the month-long series #BlogElul. The Jewish month of Elul, which precedes the High Holy Days, is traditionally a time of renewal and reflection. We look to begin the year with a clean slate, starting anew, refreshed. All month, along with others, I'll be blogging a thought or two for each day to help with the month of preparation... - See more at: http://jewishspecialneeds.blogspot.com/#sthash.kGouz1Yo.dpuf
This post is a part of the month-long series #BlogElul. The Jewish month of Elul, which precedes the High Holy Days, is traditionally a time of renewal and reflection. We look to begin the year with a clean slate, starting anew, refreshed. All month, along with others, I'll be blogging a thought or two for each day to help with the month of preparation... - See more at: http://jewishspecialneeds.blogspot.com/#sthash.kGouz1Yo.dpuf
This post is a part of the month-long series #BlogElul. The Jewish month of Elul, which precedes the High Holy Days, is traditionally a time of renewal and reflection. We look to begin the year with a clean slate, starting anew, refreshed. All month, along with others, I'll be blogging a thought or two for each day to help with the month of preparation... - See more at: http://jewishspecialneeds.blogspot.com/#sthash.kGouz1Yo.dpuf

#BlogElul 4 - Accept: The True Measure of Inclusion




Acceptance is a prompt hand-picked for a post about disability inclusion, right? There are so many directions and I've written about ways to teach our children to be accepting of disabilities and the difference between tolerance and acceptance.

If you talk with parents of children with disabilities or read some of the many parent blogs, you will discover a common thread; parents want their children with disabilities to be accepted for who they are. (Really, it's what ALL parents want for their children...)

Our task as advocates of inclusion is to create spaces where people will be able to say, “Thank you for accepting me for who I am while giving me the courage to grow, explore and reach past my own perceived limitations.”

That’s it. That’s the true measure of inclusion.

At the end of the day it's really not about whether we have the right teaching strategies or the right classroom structure or the right supports. Those things matter, to be sure. I am not making light of the importance of these constructs. But what we most need to give our students, our congregants, our friends and our family members with disabilities is the gift of acceptance. We must accept each of them for who they are while giving them the courage to grow, explore and reach beyond their own perceived limitations. 
                                             
I know it is possible.  



#BlogElul 3 – Bless: Blessed is the One Who Makes Creatures Different



Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha’olam, m’shaneh habriyot - Blessed are You, Adonai our God, ruler of the universe, who makes creatures different.

Diversity. It’s what makes life interesting. How boring it would be if we were all exactly the same! Earlier this summer I used a metaphor of fireworks as a successful model for inclusion, illustrating the significance of diversity. There are many other examples out there and so much written about the value of diversity. 
 
We should be celebrating diversity. And to do so requires actively teaching it. The Egg Activity is one lesson that you might use. This Survival Kit is another.

I’d love to hear other ways that you actively teach diversity.


This post is a part of the month-long series #BlogElul. The Jewish month of Elul, which precedes the High Holy Days, is traditionally a time of renewal and reflection. We look to begin the year with a clean slate, starting anew, refreshed. All month, along with others, I'll be blogging a thought or two for each day to help with the month of preparation...

#BlogElul 2 - Act: Are You A Hypocrite?

Are you a hypocrite?

Don’t answer that.

A better question: Do you practice what you preach?

I am wondering if you are an Educator, a teacher or a synagogue professional committed to inclusion who is working hard to bring a vision of inclusive classrooms and an inclusive community to reality. I hope you said yes…

Now - ask yourself – Are you also someone who will switch lines at the supermarket to avoid the checker with a disability? Do you park in a handicapped spot “just for a minute” while you run a quick errand? Are you a parent who complains that a child with different abilities lowers the expectations for  your child’s class or, worse, “ruins” the classroom experience for your child?

How we act matters. Everywhere. All the time. Not just when we are in our schools. Not just in some conversations some of the time. If we are advocates for inclusion, we are role models. Everywhere. All the time.

I’ve explained this to my students in terms of our Judaism. We are not just Jewish when we are in religious school or synagogue or when we are doing “something Jewish”. Jewish is who we are, not a behavior that we turn on and off, and therefore we can and should see the world around us through our Jewish lens. Just as we can and should see the world around us through an inclusive lens.

We are either inclusive or we aren’t. We can’t turn it on in our schools and our professional lives only to turn it off when the bell rings at the end of the day. 

How we act matters. Everywhere. All the time.