Growing up in Jerusalem is a straight path towards learning that life is complicated. When I take the light rail through downtown Jerusalem, I sit next to people from all kinds of backgrounds and all walks of life.
Hillels across the country spearheaded new initiatives to make their spaces more inclusive this Jewish Disability, Awareness, and Inclusion Month (JDAIM). Every February, Hillel observes JDAIM to amplify the voices of Jewish people with disabilities and spread awareness in the Jewish community.
I am a disabled, queer Jew with invisible disabilities such as ADHD—and I have faced a lot of challenges and successes with my identity. I struggled a lot with self-acceptance and finding a balance between my Judaism and two other identities that aren't often discussed in the Jewish community.
In Jewish communities everywhere, they say, ‘Well, there’s nobody with a disability in our community that we need to consider,’ but I subscribe to the model of ‘If you build it, they will come.’
I think the best part of that whole conversation was they were so grateful that we educated them because they didn’t know something that we were able to teach them about. They weren’t apologizing profusely. They were sorry, but they weren’t like ‘Really? You have to make our lives more difficult?’ They were so willing to make this change happen with us.
“Not all disabilities are visible.”
“I was diagnosed on the autism spectrum my senior year of high school.”
“I was born with muscular dystrophy. My muscles may not be as strong as everyone else’s, but I’ve learned to adapt and figure out how to do things in my own way.