I just moved this website, a site that had been largely dormant for two years.  In so doing, I had the opportunity to review five years of change (or lack thereof) in inclusion, five years of growth, five years of, unfortunately, frustration.


    Nope, the situation regarding inclusion, short of accepting crumbs off the floor, in the Jewish community has not improved.  Once I looked below the surface and the situation changed by dint of my child's age,  even what I had been told was a boldfaced lie.   There are some possible shreds of hope on the horizon as a wealthy foundation, the Ruderman Foundation, has taken on "inclusion" as a cause.  


    I have however heard those words before. I look at them with a jaundiced eye.  Just as the local JCC claims hosting "Special Olympics" to be inclusion and Chabad claims their segregated, pity driven Friendship Circle to be inclusion, I doubt that the temporarily able bodied, wealthy people at the head of that foundation will really include disabled people on the ground as movers.   There are too many organizations whose continued existence depends on sidestream programming.  There are too many well-meaning "Jewish Community Professionals" who think they know what we need.  There are too many "Jewish communities" in which classism, ableism, ageism, pity rule.

    As the month of Elul begins, that month in which Jews take stock of our behavior, our Mitzvot, and the times we missed the mark, it's ironic that I am reviewing the situation with regard to inclusion.  Is our family more included now than we were five years ago?   Nope.  It's far less, as the Jewish Community Center has excluded my son from the one program in which he still participated.   He's now in a Scout troop in which most of the members had never even met a Jew before his joining, in which he is more welcome than he had been in years at the JCC Troop.   It's far less, as even in the synagogue to which we supposedly belong, when I ask to display relevant photos from a journey to Vilnius, I am ignored, not being a sufficient Macher to be permitted to present my work.  It's far less, as the resultant anxiety for us all exceeds interest in attending any "community" events, other than a service on my father's yahrzeit, so one family member at least will say Kaddish and honor his memory.

    And so it must stay.   Perhaps years from now, when it no longer matters to us, the structure of "Jewish communities" might change and include those on the margins.  But I am not holding my breath.  I'd rather be alive than


   
 
 
As I keep walking this road they call learning about inclusion, what works and what does not, deciding whether it is all worthwhile (mostly, it is), and figuring out how to market the need to include -- as well as how to maintain expectations, from time to time I will comment here.  If you have ideas in response, or to share, send me a note at
info@a-part-or-apart.com

and I'll post your musings at the bottom of the page.  Working together, we  can effect real change and real acceptance!