Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion Month 2022

During the month of February, JFCS and Jewish communities around the world observe Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion Month (JDAIM). The mission of JDAIM is to unite Jewish communities worldwide to raise awareness and champion the rights of all Jews to be accepted and included in all aspects of Jewish life.

Temple Israel


Food for Thought: “Golem Girl” by author Riva LehrerTuesday, Feb. 8, at 11 a.m.

Captioning will be available on Zoom. Please let us know about additional ways we can make this presentation accessible to you.

We are excited to welcome Riva Lehrer, a Jewish Book Council author, for a virtual visit. Her book, Golem Girl is a vividly told, gloriously illustrated memoir of an artist born with disabilities who searches for freedom and connection in a society afraid of strange bodies.

To increase community participation, Riva has requested that if you carry a smartphone, you identify two photographs of you taken by others—one that you really love and one that you really don’t. You will be invited to share, but there is no obligation! 

Riva Lehrer is an artist, writer, and curator whose work focuses on issues of physical identity and the socially challenged body. A longtime faculty member of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Lehrer is currently an instructor in medical humanities at Northwestern University. Email Wendy Schwartz for info.

Riva will also be speaking virtually at our Friday evening Shabbat services on Feb. 18 (service begins at 6 p.m.)  Temple’s Shabbat services are livestreamed through Temple’s Facebook page and both the dial-in number and meeting ID are listed as well, for anyone interested in hearing her.

Golem Girl is for sale through Magers & Quinn. Visit for details.

Adath Jeshurun Congregation


“JDAIM is 13! Where are we now?” • Saturday, Feb. 12
Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion Month (JDAIM), a worldwide event every February, started right here in our community. JDAIM co-founder and author Shelly Christensen will share how Jewish communities have evolved in 13 years. She’ll discuss why belonging is the new approach to supporting people with disabilities and mental health conditions and those who love them to flourish in Jewish life.

Shelly Christensen, MA, FAAIDD, is a pioneer in the Jewish disability inclusion movement with over 20 years of experience working with local, national, and international synagogues, schools, agencies and organizations. Shelly was the Program Manager of the Jewish Community Inclusion Program for People with Disabilities at JFCS for over 12 years. Shelly co-founded Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month (JDAIM) in 2009 and produces the JDAIM Program Guide each year.

Mount Zion Temple


JDAIM Shabbat • Friday, Feb. 18

Please join Mount Zion at 6:30 p.m. for a special JDAIM Shabbat service on Friday, Feb. 18. Services will be multi-access – in-person, on Livestream, on Facebook Live, and Zoom.  Monique Garcia, a Mount Zion member, will lead a d’var Torah. JFCS Caring Connections members are invited to join before the Shabbat service to enjoy a special virtual program with Cantor Stock Spilker, song leader Wendy Goldberg, and the Accessibility & Inclusion Committee.

Beth El Synagogue


JDAIM D’var TorahSaturday, Feb. 19

JDAIM D’var Torah on Shabbat morning, Feb. 19, will feature Sadie Tollman as the speaker. Sadie (she/her/hers) is a special educator, mother, and advocate for inclusion. Sadie has professional and personal experience navigating the systems in place to support people with disabilities in our community as the proud parent of an incredible daughter who happens to have Down syndrome. Sadie has experience working within a wide range of school structures and locations and has prioritized equitable access to rigorous and meaningful educational experiences for students throughout her career. Sadie is currently serving as a parent representative on the Minnesota Special Education Advisory Panel for the state of Minnesota and leads the special education department for a metro area elementary school.

Click here for the video of Sadie’s speech!

Darchei Noam


JDAIM D’var Torah • Saturday, March 5

Bob Kusnetz will be giving a D’var Torah that discusses the why the Mishkan must include all materials of all types to be holy; congregations must include all members with all abilities.