We are currently a few days into the Hebrew month of Elul, the last month of the Jewish year. It is traditionally a time of renewal and reflection as we look toward the High Holy Days and the start of a new year ahead. We seek to begin the year with a clean slate, starting anew, refreshed.
A few years ago, Reform rabbi Phyllis Sommer embarked on an experiment. She set herself the goal of daily blogging as a means of reflection and then invited the social media world to join her. What has developed is a beautiful expression of words and pictures by a vast array of people. The social sharing of these ideas and images on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social networking sites using the hashtags #BlogElul and #Elulgram are inspirational. Phyllis has also chosen a daily prompt and created a lovely infographic, making the effort both recognizable and easy to share.
What I like most about this initiative is twofold. First, I believe this effort has engaged more people with the holy work of reflecting and preparing for the holy days ahead. Reading, or even just “lurking”, can engage us in new, positive ways. Second, I appreciate that sharing across social networks can bring with it increased intentionality as we (hopefully) choose what we share thoughtfully and carefully.
These constructs; reflection and intention, are essential in the work of elevating inclusive opportunities for people with disabilities. I have chosen to use #BlogElul as a way to reflect on my personal and professional inclusive practice. One of the things that I say often is that inclusion is not a program. And inclusion is not something that we do for people with disabilities. Rather, inclusion is a mindset, an attitude, a way of thinking that opens doors to opportunities for meaningful engagement, contribution and belonging.
And so, in honor of today’s #blogelul prompt, “be”, I’d like to issue a challenge. I challenge each of you to find new ways that you can be an agent for change in your community and help it to become more inclusive.
I hope that you will take some time this month, in the midst of your own preparations, to follow #BlogElul, to recognize the value of reflection and intentionality in increasing inclusion and to find ways that you can be a positive agent for change.
Lisa Friedman is Matan’s Manager of Social Media and Alumni Networks. She is also an Education Director at a Reform congregation in Central New Jersey where she oversees the synagogue’s and religious school’s inclusive practice.