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Joyful, Diverse, and Inclusive 

02/02/2022 08:02:20 PM


Rabbi Kelly Levy

February has always been a strange month. It’s pretty short. Sometimes, it has an extra day. Spelling it always requires another moment of thought. And, if you live in the north, it usually has some of the worst weather of the year. But, for the Jewish community, February also gives us the opportunity to celebrate and elevate the voices of those we don’t always hear from.

Over the next few weeks, we will celebrate Black History Month and Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month (JDAIM), both of which are near and dear to our community. I feel a personal connection to both of these commemorations, from the amazing people within our congregation, and because of the work I did prior to rabbinical school.

Following my graduation from college, I had the privilege of working as a special education assistant in an elementary school in San Antonio, as well as a private school in Israel. From students with Autism Spectrum Disorder, to Down Syndrome, to a multitude of learning disabilities, I supported each of these children in their learning. Those students taught me many important lessons about life, about friendship, and about seeing the world with new perspectives. They helped me to grow as a professional, but more importantly, as a citizen of the world.

At CBI, we are a multi-cultural, multi-racial, multi-neurodiverse, diverse, and inclusive Kehillah Kedosha (holy community) It is our responsibility to assure that each and every person within our congregation is seen, heard, welcomed, included, and embraced. So, this month, please be on the lookout for guest bloggers, programs, new initiatives, and more. At CBI, we take our mission seriously: to be a joyful, diverse, and inclusive space for all.

I’d like to propose another addition to our mission. As Lisa Friedman once said, “We do not ‘do’ inclusion ‘for’ people with disabilities. Rather, it is incumbent upon us to figure out how all the things we do can be inclusive.” While this quote focuses specifically on neurodiversity, I want to suggest that all things inclusive is for ALL.

Please be in touch if you have further ideas about how we can ensure that every member of our community feels supported and embraced. We want to continuing growing and learning, doing our part to be a safe space for each person who enters our holy space.

Mon, February 6 2023 15 Sh'vat 5783