Baltimore, MD - Feb. 1, 2016 - February is the eighth consecutive Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month (JDAIM), a national initiative to promote awareness and sensitivity throughout the Jewish community for people with disabilities and their families. JDAIM helps bring attention to the fact that 20 percent of the population has a disability.

In recognition of JDAIM, The Associated and its agencies are holding events throughout February. Highlights include special story times and crafts at area retailers, Wednesdays at J Town for children and a parenting workshop, The Special Needs Balancing Act.

The Special Needs Balancing Act, co-sponsored by Jewish Community Services and Macks Center for Jewish Education (CJE), both Associated agencies, will help parents find the balance in life when raising a child with disabilities. Discussion includes creating time for relationships, children and oneself.

The Baltimore community added the word “Inclusion” in the past, but this is the first year the national campaign has followed the addition to the title.

“Every Jew is an important part of the community. Our community is not complete unless everyone is present,” says Rachel Turniansky, director of disability and inclusion services at Macks CJE.

 “I think it is really easy for people to live their lives and see people with disabilities in a separate category. JDAIM helps us see that people with disabilities are as much us as we are. The idea of inclusion means that they are a part of our lives,” adds Dr. Aviva Weisbord, executive director of SHEMESH, also an agency of The Associated. 

Both Turniansky and Weisbord stressed how important it is to teach children that people with disabilities are a valuable part of the Jewish community. “Children are eventually going to be employers, so when it comes to hiring people, they are ones that need to realize that a person with a disability can be just as good of a worker as a person without a disability,” says Turniansky.

Inclusion needs to be practiced every day, not just in the month of February. It is not enough to just be aware that there are people in the community with disabilities. The Jewish community should strive to make everyone feel welcome and be able to access and celebrate Jewish life in the way they want. According to Weisbord no one should feel anxious to go to synagogue because there isn’t a ramp or a sign interpreter.  

Here is a listing of programs offered to the community by The Associated and its agencies during JDAIM.

Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month Activities 2016

You Eat- SHEMESH Gains                                                                                                                                   February 1-7

As part of Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month, please eat at Accents, Cocoaccinos and Serengeti in support of services for children with learning differences. Takeout included!                            A percentage of the proceeds will go to support SHEMESH programs. Learn more:

Intro to ASL Class 

Tuesdays: February 2, 9, 16 and 23; 7:30 – 9:00 p.m., Macks Center for Jewish Education
Learn basic American sign language vocabulary and grammar, beginning conversational skills and get an introduction to deaf culture and community. Register at

Snowflakes for Special Needs
February 4  4:00 – 5:30 p.m.                                                                                                                                                               February 7  11:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.                                                                                                                                     February 21  11:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Join others and display a Snowflake for Special Needs symbol on your car – recognizing that Every One is Special. Register at

JDAIM Reads for Kids Storytime

Storytime and activities featuring the JDAIM Reads for Kids book, The Mitten String by Jennifer Rosen

10:30 – 11:30 a.m.

Wednesday, February 17, J Town Park Heights JCC

Sunday, February 21, Michael’s Crafts

Thursday, February 25, Michael’s Crafts

Learn more:

JDAIM at J Town

Join the fun at J Town and enjoy special JDAIM activities, including special Storytimes, Sensory Awareness Day and Inclusion Activities.

Wednesdays: February 3, 10, 17, 24; 1:45 – 2:00 p.m. Sign Language Activities

Wednesday, February 17 10:30 – 11:00 a.m. The Mitten String JDAIM Story Time                                     Wednesday, February 24 10:30 – 11:00 a.m. JDAIM Activity in Studio J                                                                 J Town at the Park Heights JCC

Learn more:

The Special Needs Balancing Act

Monday, February 22 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.

Jewish Community Services

Parenting Workshop co-sponsored by CJE and JCS. Will help parents find the balance in life when raising a child with disabilities. Learn more:

Read with Karma Dogs

Tuesday, February 23rd 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Shy or reluctant readers are welcome to join us in the CJE Library to read to Karma Dogs from H.E.A.R.T.S. Help Encourage All Readers to Success. Karma dogs are friendly, nonjudgmental and good listeners.

CJE Library, 5708 Park Heights Avenue

Registration suggested:

The Mitten String and Uniquely Human Reader’s Guide

Available throughout Jewish Disabilities Awareness and Inclusion Month (JDAIM)
Parents and teachers can request the curriculum to enhance and extend.
 Learn more: