JFS to host a virtual town hall on disability

By JFS Staff

Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion Month (JDAIM) is a unified effort among Jewish organizations worldwide to raise awareness and foster acceptance and inclusion of people with disabilities and mental health conditions and those who love them. JDAIM is a call to action for all of us to act in accordance with our Jewish values, honoring the gifts and strengths that we each possess. Established in 2009 by the Jewish Special Education International Consortium, JDAIM is observed each February. Even though JDAIM spotlights disability awareness, inclusion is something Jewish Family Service will focus on all year long. 

Jewish Family Service of the Lehigh Valley (JFSLV) and Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley (JFLV) recognize the need to improve our understanding of ways to create a more inclusive community. This year’s main event will be a JDAIM Town Hall virtual meeting for people with disabilities, clergy, community leaders and families to voice their experiences and suggestions to help identify needed changes. The event will be moderated by JFS Disability Liaison, Amanda Thomas, Ph.D., and RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization that fights stigmas and advances opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community. A trained expert from the Jewish Division of RespectAbility’s growing National Disability Speakers Bureau will help bring insight and guide discussions on disability and inclusion. 

ASL interpretation and Communication Access Real-Time Translation will be provided. Please contact Amanda Thomas at amthomas@jfslv.org by Feb. 1 if you need any additional accommodations.

In preparation for this event, the 2022 JFS Inclusion Survey will be emailed to all community members. This brief survey will help us to understand the issues, challenges and opportunities for change. Based on the results, thematic topics will be created for the JDAIM Town Hall meeting to provide a deeper and more comprehensive discussion. 

What should I expect during the JDAIM Town Hall meeting? 
•   We will have topics to guide our discussion. A speaker from RespectAbility and Amanda Thomas will moderate the event. Participants are encouraged to share experiences, offer suggestions and expertise on reducing barriers. Anonymous polls will be conducted throughout the event, to ensure everyone’s voice is heard. The 2022 JFS Inclusion Survey results will be presented after every poll. At the completion of the JDAIM Town Hall meeting, we will have a brief Q&A for those who would like to continue the discussion.

What are the next steps after having this JDAIM Town Hall meeting? 
•   This event, in combination with the 2022 JFS Inclusion Survey results, will provide invaluable information that will help JFSLV and JFLV develop short-term and long-term goals for the community. A disability inclusion committee will be created to help guide and prioritize these goals. 

We look forward to having this conversation with you.