February is Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month. As part of our Federation’s commitment to inclusion, every week this month we will feature a blog written by either a member of our community with a disability or their parent, or by a professional working with one of our partner organizations that serves people with special needs.
Bloggers were asked to answer one of the following questions: What is your superpower that helps you gain strength and confidence in the Jewish community? Who has made you feel like a superhero and included in the Jewish community, and how?
Superpowers are not limited to superheroes in cartoons. Everyone has superpowers. One must understand and accept them. I am a young adult who has different abilities. Growing up in school, academics were a bit of a challenge, but my superpowers got me through. I am very determined, hard-working, and friendly. These superpowers helped me overcome any challenges.
Today, I am part of the Shemesh Enterprise team. The Shemesh Enterprise takes place in Malibu at the Shalom Institute. I help to make products from our farm and garden and then I sell our products at the various L.A. farmers markets. I love making new friends at Shemesh and working side by side with the Shemesh and Shalom Institute team.
Another one of my superpowers is I have great ideas. At Shemesh, my ideas are heard and often implemented. On Sundays, I’m very passionate about representing the Shemesh Enterprise and the Jewish community in the larger L.A. community. I meet a lot of amazing people and educate them about what we do at Shemesh and how the enterprise is run by adults of all abilities. I also love being a sales associate and selling our products, which include bath salts, lip balms, garden stones and produce from our garden.
Sometimes people want to get involved in Shemesh or The Shalom Institute as a way of connecting to Jewish life. It makes me feel proud to represent the Jewish community and help them make a connection.
Another strength of mine is public speaking. I have spoken on behalf of Shemesh Enterprises on several occasions to raise awareness and help with fundraising.
My family is always loving, caring and down to earth. They are great people. They support me in all of my dreams and endeavors. They have helped me in finding my superpowers and encouraged me to nurture them. My family and I have a wonderful connection to The Shalom Institute and Shemesh Enterprises as well as to Israel and the overall Jewish community. My family has always loved getting involved in the Jewish community, especially my sister Stephanie. She has been a role model to me as well as my Mom and my sister Alex. I hope that I am a role model now for others of all abilities.
It is important for people to know that you should always go for your dreams and follow your heart regardless of any challenges you face. Surround yourself with people who are very supportive and encourage you to be the very best you can be.
Brittanie Sanders is 27 years old and works both in the marketing department and as a sales associate at Shemesh Enterprises. In her spare time, Brittanie likes practicing self-defense, bowling, and spending time with family and friends. She is an advocate for people with all abilities.
Shalom Institute’s Shemesh Enterprises is a social enterprise that empowers and develops independence for young adults with different abilities through employment, internships, and social connections.
For more information about Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month, please contact Miriam Maya, Director, Caring for Jews in Need, at (323) 761-8081 or MMaya@JewishLA.org.