Meet Amy Murphy, our new Manager of Jewish Abilities Atlanta (JAA). Amy joined the Federation team in September, and we are thrilled to have her onboard.
JAA works to make the Jewish community inclusive for people with varying abilities. The initiative raises community awareness, teaches best practices for inclusion, provides sensitivity and awareness training, holds educational consultations with Jewish preschools, and engages in advocacy work with other organizations.
Amy comes to Federation from the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta (MJCCA), where she was the director of the Blonder Family Department of Special Needs, and she has been working with marginalized people for decades. Amy began her career as a social worker in the U.S., and later in the UK.
Amy lived in Ireland for 23 years, where she started her family. She took a break from professional life when her children were small, but in 2001 she returned to work. She felt that moving into advocacy work for people with disabilities was “a good transition” from social work. It was a different way of “supporting and empowering vulnerable people.”
The Covid-19 pandemic brought Amy back to Atlanta to be near family. She quickly became part of the Jewish disability community here, working with advocates like Annie Garrett, Howie Rosenberg, Sheryl Arno, Jan Jay and more. Amy was previously a member of the JAA’s external community inclusion committee. She says that working towards inclusion is vital because it is “accepting people for who they are so they can be their authentic self.”
With her work at JAA, she constantly asks herself, “How can we support individuals and families to have better experiences and be part of community?” Educating people about best practices for inclusion (including communication and language) is vital. Recently, JAA created and distributed an information guide for ushers at a synagogue on inclusive language so they can make visitors to their congregations feel welcomed and included.
Amy also says that as a community, we must challenge our ideas about the ways things have “always been done” and be open to change and new ways.
Current JAA initiatives include providing sign language interpretation for Nyle DeMarco’s presentation at the 31st Edition of the Book Festival of the MJCCA. DeMarco, a deaf author and filmmaker, will be discussing his book, Deaf Utopia: A Memoir—and a Love Letter to a Way of Life. Additionally, JAA is currently accepting applications for Inclusion Microgrants. These microgrants will give up to $1500 a piece to selected organizations to create opportunities for inclusion for people with disabilities. Applications will be accepted through November 28.
Amy is excited to be at JAA and working towards a more inclusive Jewish community. She is passionate about making sure that all people feel welcomed and considered in public spaces. “Inclusivity touches every aspect of our lives – it’s in where we work, where we learn, where we worship and where we shop.”