Looking Ahead: The Next Chapter in Inclusion – A Message from Gil Preuss

Looking Ahead: The Next Chapter in Inclusion – A Message from Gil Preuss

This is part of a series of messages about the way we are thinking about our work in 2020 and beyond.

At The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, we are motivated by a clear and compelling vision of what Jewish life can be. Our team of professionals and volunteers are inspired to do this work because we believe this vision is not some far-off dream, but rather a reality in the making. By connecting people with the partners, space, and resources for them to pursue vital new ideas, we are working to strengthen Jewish life for the benefit of every individual.

A fundamental component of this work includes collaborating with passionate partners to make Jewish life as accessible to people living with disabilities as possible.

Disability awareness and inclusion are priorities when it comes to how we function as a Federation and to the work we support. We are proud to work closely with organizations like the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes (including their MOST program), JSSA, Sulam, and Sunflower Bakery, among many others, who are providing people with disabilities with everything from job training (nearly 50,000 hours in 2019) to an accessible Jewish education. Additionally, our local synagogues, JCCs, and other agencies are helping people with disabilities take full advantage of day camps, summer camps, trips to Israel, and more. Indeed, when it comes to organizations in our area, Greater Washington is fortunate to have some of the best role models in the field. We are eager to continue learning from and working with our talented partners to expand and strengthen communal offerings.

In addition to this work, we are also thinking about how we can transform the way the Jewish community operates and embrace the practices and policies that will make for a truly inclusive and truly vibrant community. To that end, we are focused on helping people combine their efforts and work toward a more inclusive community together. In 2019, we focused on mobilizing advocates, family members, and stakeholders of all kinds who care about these issues. We supported synagogues in joining forces to make Jewish services more accessible. We helped leaders of different agencies come together and collaborate on inclusion. We empowered community members to organize working groups focused on these issues. Our goal in the year ahead will be to build on this momentum and continue fostering collaboration and partnership when it comes to advocating for the rights of every community member.

At the very heart of Jewish teachings is the idea that by upholding the dignity of others, we uphold the dignity of the Divine, as well as our collective potential to be a light in this world. But inclusion is about more than simply acknowledging the gaps—it is also about working together to fill them.

As a community, we are stronger when everyone has compelling options for leading rich and fulfilling Jewish lives. In the coming decade, our team looks forward to working alongside you to meet the needs of our fellow community members to the benefit of us all.

Shabbat Shalom,
Gil