Four years ago, we held our first Shabbat of the Senses during J.D.A.I.M, Jewish Disabilities Awareness and Inclusion Month. This Shabbat led our congregation through prayer as if we were missing one or more of our senses or abilities. One night of attempting to experience prayer as those in our community who have different abilities do every Friday night, led many of our congregants to share their stories with me.
Our conversations always ended by asking ourselves what we could do to elevate inclusion awareness and what could we do to make ourselves accessible to everyone in our community. How could we make sure everyone in our midst felt included in Jewish life?
Koleinu, TE’s inclusion awareness committee was born out of those conversations and the desire to increase awareness and facilitate participation for everyone within the five main pillars of Jewish life at Temple Emanu-EL. From live streaming, to our assistive technology room, to providing magnifiers and adapted prayer books allowing our folks to more easily engage in prayer, from designing handicap accessible synagogue programming such as our Tashlich event this year, we have been working hard to make Jewish life engaging and open to all.
Our religious school is dedicated to making Jewish learning inclusive and engaging with individualized study to sensory friendly environments, special education co-teachers and invisible disability training.
This is a short snapshot of the resources we offer here at TE. If you want to know more, we will soon have all of our resources listed on our website.
This Tuesday, October 16, from 10am-12pm, Temple Emanu-EL is hosting a community wide think tank session, co-partnering with the JAA, The Jewish Federation’s Jewish Abilities Alliance, and with many synagogues in our greater Atlanta metro area. The goal of this think tank is twofold; we want to help other synagogues who are beginning to develop inclusion awareness in their communities, and we want to learn together the best practices for elevating inclusion awareness and serving those in our communities who have different abilities, special needs, or invisible disabilities.
This learning session is open to our entire community, so I invite you to come and learn with us! Our Koleinu committee will be presenting our work and accomplishments to the entire community. This is a wonderful opportunity to see first-hand what is happening right here in our synagogue and within the community at large.
If you are interested in this work we are doing, and would like to learn more, please contact me!
Shabbat Shalom and as always,
B’shira (In Song),
 Koleinu means our voices