World Jewry marks International Day of Persons with Disabilities

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) runs activities in eight different countries.

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December 4, 2017 16:41
3 minute read.
World Jewry marks International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Workshops with people with disabilities sharing their stories as part of the Disabilities festival in Kishinev, Moldova.. (photo credit: JDC)

 
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Jewish communities around the world are marking International Day of Persons with Disabilities with a series of activities run by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC). The global day was marked on December 3, but the JDC activities, taking place in eight countries, seek to promote inclusivity of people with disabilities, through a whole week of educational, training, and volunteer events.

“We have a long-held vision of a global Jewish community powered by the passion and talents of all its members, including people with disabilities. As we work every day to realize that goal around the world, we’re proud to pioneer activities that build inclusive societies and foster welcoming Jewish communities,” said JDC chief executive David Schizer. The initiative is the fruits of a partnership between the JDC, the Ruderman Family Foundation and the Israeli government, who together created Israel Unlimited, which is focused on advancing inclusivity and independent living for Israelis with disabilities. “By drawing on the successes of Israel Unlimited and taking those models global, we are proud to join with the Ruderman Family Foundation in realizing a Jewish future strengthened by the invaluable contributions of people with disabilities,” Schizer said.

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Across the former Soviet Union, the JDC notes, disability stigmas are quite acute, thus the activities operated in those countries are education focused. Activities include a Kiev-based seminar for professionals in JDC-supported Jewish community centers, schools, and kindergartens on disability-focused teaching methods. JDC and local Jewish organizations in Kishinev will hold a city-wide disabilities festival including workshops led by people with disabilities and the sharing of personal stories to educate the public about the struggles people with disabilities face. In Moscow, people with and without disabilities will celebrate at a disco party at a local JDC-supported Jewish community center in honor of the global day.

In Mumbai, a JDC Entwine Jewish Service Corp Fellow will lead volunteers to Om Creations – a nonprofit organization employing adults with Down syndrome and other disabilities in roles related to catering and crafts — where they will work with employees to bake challahs for sale to the Jewish community in India’s largest city. Meanwhile, in Turkey, another JDC Entwine Jewish Service Corps Fellow will be assisting at a local Jewish community center as it hosts a folk dancing program for children both with and without disabilities.

In Israel, a #WithandWithout campaign was launched to change attitudes and fight stigmas around people with disabilities. The campaign involves asking the public to write what inclusion means to them on their hands and then share it on Facebook. By gathering posts from Israeli leaders and citizens, and matching those with as many posts from people with and without disabilities living throughout the regions JDC serves, the organization seeks to build “bridges of understanding.” JDC social media platforms, including JDC Entwine’s expansive social media audience, will share the photos and hashtag. In Berlin, the JDC-supported European Annual Conference of Jewish Social Welfare will bring together 150 Jewish professionals to explore best practices for the inclusion and integration of people with disabilities in Jewish communities on the continent. The seminar will include visits to local disability services, training sessions, and panel discussions with disability professionals. Nearly 1 billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, have a disability.

In Israel, a #WithandWithout campaign was launched to change attitudes and fight stigmas around people with disabilities. The campaign involves asking the public to write what inclusion means to them on their hands and then share it on Facebook.

By gathering posts from Israeli leaders and citizens, and matching those with as many posts from people with and without disabilities living throughout the regions JDC serves,  the organization seeks to build “bridges of understanding.” JDC social media platforms, including JDC Entwine’s expansive social media audience, will share the photos and hashtag.

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In Berlin, the JDC-supported European Annual Conference of Jewish Social Welfare will bring together 150 Jewish professionals to explore best practices for the inclusion and integration of people with disabilities in Jewish communities on the continent. The seminar will include visits to local disability services, training sessions, and panel discussions with disability professionals.

Nearly 1 billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, have a disability. 

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