Over 340 adults and children attended the Inclusion of People with Disabilities in our Jewish Community event featuring keynote speaker Temple Grandin at Congregation Har HaShem last Thursday night, despite snowy weather and cancellations.
An extraordinary display of community unity brought Boulder-area rabbis Borenstein, Bronstein, Korngold, Rose, Soloway, Wilhelm, Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, as well as Rabbi Lutman from B’nai Havurah Congregation in Denver together with representatives from most local Jewish organizations, other faith-based groups, and individuals from Boulder and beyond.
The evening began with a lively resource fair featuring resources for a wide spectrum of disabilities held during the dinner hour that allowed participants and guests to engage in meaningful personal interactions.
Formal introductions followed by Congregation Har HaShem Senior Rabbi Josh Rose and event chair Susan Glairon who set the tone for a parent panel featuring honest testimonies from parents speaking about their search for connection within faith communities.
Elsewhere in the building at the same time, a discussion between teens was moderated by Har HaShem’s Youth Director Simi Adler and NFTY-MV Region Program Manager Beth Lipschutz.
CSU professor, bestselling author and philosophical leader of both the animal welfare and autism advocacy movements, Dr. Temple Grandin then delivered an informative, practical, and moving keynote lecture about autism and her sensory-based world with poise and humor.
“It was a remarkable program! Hats and kippahs off to Susan Glairon and her amazing committee” said Har HaShem’s Executive Director, Gary Fifer.
The event was envisioned by Har HaShem congregant Susan Glairon and made possible by a Limmud-inspired Jewish Learning Grant from Rose Community Foundation and by Congregation Har HaShem. The event committee included Jennie Feiger, Ruth Henderson, Lauren Park, and Barbara Trager.
Other comments collected from the program survey included:
“Greatly successful event, and a great start to I believe not just awareness but hopefully now for great changes. Well done!”
“I am very grateful to have participated in the Jewish Inclusion Fair, and hope to see this event again next year!”
“I am glad to have had the opportunity to learn from and be in community with you all.”
“My daughter was going to a Halloween party in Denver but didn’t want to leave the program until the very end.”
“You got the point across about inclusion. What else came across was the ‘constant pressure’ the surrounding family (of the high need person) lives in and what might ‘relief’ look like for them.”
“Temple was inspiring in her speech and when I spoke with her personally, I bought a book!”
“I really appreciated your presentation and opening remarks last night. Your words were powerful and sincere, and really impacted everyone, me included. Thank you for that.”
“What an amazing and inspiring program! Your talk was so brave and honest and moving. May you be blessed with the strength and vision to see many wonderful results from this.”
“I am a special education teacher as well as a Hebrew teacher … and look forward to bringing more awareness and inclusion to Jewish Boulder.”
Before the event, stories were collected from parents about their intersection with faith communities regarding inclusion, and these stories will be used at future meetings of the Jewish Disabilities Network. Read them online at www.jewishinclusion.org.
More information will follow as the conversation to include people with disabilities in our Jewish community continues.
Susan Glairon tells us, “At the event I received a lot of interest from individuals and organizations. Anyone interested in being part of a faith-based inclusion task force, or has suggestions for how to move forward, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.”