In early 2020, the Jewish Abilities Alliance (JAA) engaged in a study of disability inclusion in Jewish Atlanta with an organization called Matan. Matan works with Jewish professionals, communities, and families to create and sustain inclusive Jewish settings for people with disabilities. The study was an opportunity to reflect on our community’s past efforts and to re-evaluate needs and areas for deeper focus and support.
Then came COVID-19. As the pandemic began to unfold, the study took on even more importance. It was clear that individuals with disabilities were disproportionately affected by the pandemic, facing increased social isolation, cuts in crucial services, and increased vulnerability to their health and wellbeing.
Thanks to the consulting team from Matan, we now have identified a framework that promotes and enhances a vision of a Jewish Atlanta that is fully inclusive of individuals with disabilities and their families across the lifespan. Here are some of the ways how we hope to close the gap between what currently exists and what the community aims to accomplish:
- Establishing and supporting coordinated communal inclusion efforts and unified community goals
- Prioritizing funding for inclusion across the lifespan and ensuring sustainability
- Creating a shared communal vision of acceptance and support for individuals of all abilities
- Training for all community professionals and lay leaders to create an even landscape of inclusion knowledge and capability
We look forward to sharing the outcomes of this study and our road map for the next several years as we deepen our work alongside our community partners, in making Jewish Atlanta a place where people of all abilities are welcomed, included, and embraced in all aspects of Jewish life.