February is Jewish Disability Awareness & Inclusion Month
Although Yael Greene is only 17, she has spent the last nine years advocating for people with disabilities. Greene has autism, and the high school junior says she decided to speak on Congregation Har HaShem’s upcoming Jewish Disability Awareness & Inclusion Month (JDAIM) panel to “show that having a disability doesn’t make you less than other people.“
“I have to work harder than other people to accomplish a goal, and throughout the many obstacles I have had, I always overcame them,” says Greene, who is the daughter of Har HaShem’s rabbi, Fred Greene.
On February 11 at 7:00 pm, three Har HaShem members, including Yael Greene, will be sharing their inclusion stories as part of a JDAIM panel at Har HaShem. The panel also features Diana Lane, who has a daughter with special needs, and Bob Schulzinger, a former CU-Boulder history professor who suffered a stroke five years ago. The panel, which is free and open to the public, occurs during JDAIM, which is being celebrated in Jewish communities nationwide during the month of February.
“Part of creating an inclusive community is not assuming that everyone’s life will follow the same path,” Diana, 46, says, “Not everyone will go to college, get married, have children, live independently, etc., and that can be true regardless of abilities/disabilities.”
Schulzinger, now retired, walks with a walker and has difficulty speaking. But Schulzinger’s disability doesn’t stop him being an active member of Har HaShem, and most Saturdays Bob attends Har HaShem’s Torah study class. Since he can no longer drive, members of the class pick him up and take him home.
“The members of the Torah study are so attentive and very gracious, and I like that,” says Schulzinger who will also speak during Har HaShem’s Shabbat services at 7:00 pm on February 5. “They are just great people.”
Yael Greene credits her family for supporting her. She’s also a song leader for NFTY Missouri Valley and the Head Songleader of HHS”s temple youth group, BTY. She enjoys playing her guitar, singing, acting, writing music, learning about Judaism, and talking with friends from URJ camps and youth groups.
“I have overcome so much, and I am continuing my journey with love, support, and bravery,” Yael says.
Congregation Har HaShem requests RSVPs for the panel. Please click here to RSVP.