Session Submission Summary

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“A Part” or “Apart:” Research on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Jewish Life

Mon, December 17, 10:30am to 12:00pm, Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center, Skyline Room

Session Submission Type: Roundtable


There is growing awareness of the inclusion status and needs of persons with disabilities within the Jewish community. This roundtable will explore issues raised by social science/educational research on the phenomena of inclusion and marginalization of persons with disabilities within the Jewish community and will address the following questions.
• How do scholars, practitioners, educators, and funders operationalize the concept of inclusion?
• What characteristics of organizations and programs are associated with perceived inclusion?
• What tensions are faced in trying to maximize the dignity and authentic experience of persons with disabilities?
• How do inclusion efforts affect organizations and non-disabled peers and family?
The panel consists of scholars from diverse fields, who will address these questions from a range of perspectives informed by their research.

Fern Chertok, Research Scientist, Brandeis University. Fern will address how inclusion of persons with disabilities fits into the larger narrative of Jewish identity development and search for community during emerging adulthood. Fern’s perspective draws on research on the experiences of young adults with disabilities on Birthright Israel trips and on identity development among Jewish young adults.

Jeffrey Kress, Associate Professor, Bernard Heller Chair in Jewish Education, Jewish Theological Seminary. Jeffrey will focus on the organizational structures and processes needed to create caring learning communities. His understanding is informed by theories from community psychology and experiential education, and by research about inclusion in Jewish summer camps and community building in a variety of Jewish (and general) educational settings.

Abigail Uhrman, Assistant Professor of Jewish Education, Jewish Theological Seminary. Abigail’s work explores the experiences of individuals with disabilities and their families in formal and informal Jewish settings. She will discuss the benefits and challenges of inclusion for additional stakeholders and for organizational change surrounding adoption of inclusive attitudes and practices.

Daniel Olson, Doctoral Candidate, New York University. Daniel’s research focuses on the concept of “citizenship” as it relates to inclusion. Daniel’s will raise issues of what “citizenship” might look like for people with disabilities in the Jewish communal context.

The panel will be moderated by Rachel MInkin, Research Associate at the Cohen Center at Brandeis University.

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