February is quite a famous month. Known for its celebration of love or, for some St. Valentine, it is also well known for the following holidays: Click on the highlighted words to learn more: Sometimes Super Bowl Sunday (Next year February 3rd 2019 in Atlanta, Ga- so mark your calendars football fans!), Paul Bunyan Day, Indianapolis/Daytona 500, Mardi Gras, LEAP Year, The Westminster Dog Show, The Kwakiutl Midwinter Ceremony, Groundhog Day, President’s Day, and the biggest night of the year for Hollywood (and all celebrity, movie and haute couture fans) The Academy Awards.
It is not a surprise that in recent years, Judaism has chosen this very special month celebrating love in all forms and fashion to elevate Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion. For short, J.D.A.I.M.
This special month is now in its tenth year, and marks a time when Jewish communities come together to raise awareness and advocacy for those with different abilities. Here in Atlanta, The Jewish Abilities Alliance is an organization focused on creating a community of inclusion where people of all abilities become one within Judaism and the values and traditions we hold dear.
Leviticus 19 is a pivotal chapter in the Torah. Known as the Holiness Code, the verses in this chapter teach us how to become am kedosha, a holy people. Verse 14 reminds us “You shall not insult the deaf, or place a stumbling block before the blind. You shall fear your God; I am Adonai.” The word fear may also be translated as “see.” Not only are we commanded specifically never to take advantage of those with different abilities than ourselves, we are perhaps, commanded to SEE the divine that makes them, all of us, b’tzelem Elohim, human beings created in the image of God.
Friday February 9th we will have the opportunity to come together as am kedosha- a holy people, as we have for the past four years, as one community, standing side by side with folks of all demographics and abilities. Join us before and after Shabbat services to meet some very special congregants and folks from the Jewish Abilities Alliance to learn about our community’s commitment to inclusion. We will pray together in our annual Shabbat of the Senses Service, building a sensory friendly community, and elevating our commitment to building inclusion in meaningful ways.
Cantor Lauren Adesnik