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Nisan 5778

Nisan: Creating Inclusivity

Shalom,

On Seder night (coming up this year on March 30th) we make the powerful declaration, “Let all who are hungry, come and eat!” This statement of radical inclusivity and welcoming is a particularly important value for Pesach, and so we are dedicating this month’s newsletter to the value of inclusivity – welcoming people all backgrounds and abilities to our Jewish communities. 

Don’t forget to check out Yesod’s Resource Archive for Nisan and Pesach as it includes great suggestions for how to make your seder relevant and interesting.

We’ll soon read in the Hagaddah about how Pharoah, ruler of ancient Egypt, exemplified a mentality of superiority and dominance over others. This attitude leads to the enslavement and dehumanising of those who are deemed inferior, especially those with disabilities. Opposing this approach is the Jewish perspective which requires us to control our own feelings of self-importance so as not to crush those who are different from us. This stems from the Jewish concept that all people are made B’tzelem Elohim – In the image of God. This approach requires us to value the humanity inherent in every person, and to ensure dignity and justice for all people.

Unfortunately in the world around us we see countries and governments who dominate those deemed ‘different’ or ‘lesser than’. But perhaps even in our own lives and work we unintentionally let superiority and exclusivity creep in! To combat these tendencies, we ask ourselves the following questions:

Does everyone feel comfortable and accepted on all our programmes?
Do people with disabilities feel included and valued?
How often do we see people with disabilities at our synagogues, programmes or gathering places?

Take the following Disability Implicit Association Test from Harvard University and see whether you have implicit bias towards or against people with disabilities.

Being Inclusive Podcast

In this month’s Yesod podcast Rabbi David Levin-Kruss, Director of Jewish Education for Europe for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), teaches how Jewish texts and values offer a structure to make all Jews, no matter the disability, feel included and welcome in our community. Click here to listen to the podcast and here to view the accompanying source sheet.

There are five stages to inclusivity:

 

So as you get ready for Pesach, which the Sages call “the time our freedom”, let’s work on using our freedom to include people with disabilities so everyone feels free.

Yesod

Next steps for modeling the value of Inclusivity

Use the following resources for yourself, bring them to your team, and have them in mind when creating vision and programmes.

Pesach Resources

Don’t forget to check out Yesod’s Resource Archive for Nisan and Pesach as it includes great suggestions for how to make your seder relevant and interesting.

View Resource of the Month Archive for resources posted in previous months.