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The Jewish Federation And Partners Kick Off JDAIM

JDAIM participant engaged in jumping drills with ZOOZ Fitness

February marks the nationwide Jewish Disabilities Awareness and Inclusion Month (JDAIM) – four weeks dedicated to celebrating and bringing attention to individuals with disabilities and special needs. Here in Los Angeles, JDAIM will include a range of activities and initiatives that reflect an important Federation and Jewish value: making Jewish community accessible and inclusive for all.

“We believe that everyone in our community should have the same opportunities to experience and celebrate Jewish life. Every member in our community has passions, talents, and something to offer, and we want to honor that,” said Lori Klein, the Senior Vice President for Jewish Federation Los Angeles’ Caring for Jews in Need (CJIN) strategic initiative.

Girl making lemonade on Shalom Institute’s bike blender

JDAIM is a major effort toward this goal, seeking to educate and celebrate inclusion in a variety of ways. During the month of February, the Federation will highlight the stories of various individuals with special needs and those who have worked with them. The Federation’s JDAIM website is also a hub for resources, centralizing local community events, information, and tips.

A highlight during the month is the Jewish Community Inclusion Festival on February 26th. The Festival is a fun event for families and individuals of all ages, interests, and abilities. The day will include games, music, and all sorts of inclusive activities. It is organized by the HaMercaz-Los Angeles Jewish Abilities Center (LAJAC) Partners Group. HaMercaz-LAJAC Partners is a collaborative facilitated by Jewish Federation Los Angeles in partnership with Jewish Family Service and seventeen other organizations; it serves as a platform for providing coordinated services to Jewish individuals with special needs and their families, sharing resources and best practices, networking, and identifying gaps in service.

Quinn Lohmann leading the audience in Jewish songs

Indeed, this extensive collaboration between different organizations is a hallmark of JDAIM and the Federation’s role in uniting organizations together for a common cause.

“In our role as convener we bring together many community partners that each focus on a different area in the Jewish disability community,” said Klein. “Together we can accomplish and achieve so much more, and with Federation’s leadership, we’ve been able to enhance our approach to disabilities in the Los Angeles Jewish community.”

On a national level, “JDAIM Reads!” selects different books annually that educate readers about different elements of living with disabilities. Community members across the country will also participate in Jewish Disability Advocacy Day on February 2nd in Washington D.C., learning about and advocating for relevant inclusive policies.

Miriam Maya, Director of CJIN and LAJAC at Jewish Federation Los Angeles, with Danny’s Farm Animals

In addition to these many activities throughout the month, JDAIM provides a chance for organizations and individuals to pause and reflect on their approaches to inclusion more broadly.

“Though JDAIM is celebrated and honored in the month of February, inclusion efforts take place all year round. I see JDAIM as an opportunity for partners and members of our community to either launch their inclusion agendas or to use it as a check-in point to reflect on their progress,” said Miriam Maya, Director of CJIN and LAJAC at Jewish Federation Los Angeles.

“Inclusivity is not just a word or program,” she added. “It is a mindset that is embedded into our beliefs and actions.”

For more information about Jewish Disabilities Awareness and Inclusion Month, contact Miriam Maya at MMaya@jewishla.org or at (323) 761-8081.

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