01 December 2015
“We are all superheroes. We do our best work when we join forces.”
On October 18, 2015, the Federation of Greater Washington hosted A Call for All attended by a broad cross section of our community including individuals with disabilities, family members, advocates, lay and professional leaders. Our guest speaker, Yishai Barth reminded us that we are all superheroes who we do our best work when we join forces. In response to numerous requests for copies of Yishai’s remarks, our first post brings you his speech as recorded using CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation).
Yishai is a Jew and a person with a disability. He has cerebral palsy and is legally blind. Yishai describes himself as a Conservative Jew in a Renewal context, a Ramah Palmer veteran, and theologically a very balanced agnostic. While in high school Yishai was a co-researcher at Boston University and on a panel of teens developing a program to teach other teens advocacy skills in institutional environments. Yishai graduated from Prozdor, the high school division of Hebrew College where he spoke at his graduation on the importance of inclusion in Jewish life. In 2014 he presented at the Jewish Leadership Institute on Disabilities and Inclusion and in October 2015 he was the keynote speaker for the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington’s community program, A Call for All. He is currently a freshman at the honors college at UMass Amherst. He is involved in BBYO, the ARC, AIPAC, and more. Yishai is a disability rights advocate by words and actions. He has an amazing grasp of Jewish texts and religion. Yishai reminds us, we are all superheroes with individual strengths and weaknesses, who do our best work when we join forces and work together. Together we have the power to shift the paradigm and create culture change. When we focus the conversation on environments (accessible versus inaccessible) as opposed to people, consider the power of language and view interdependence as beneficial, we can create fully inclusive, vibrant communities.