Congregation Ohav Shalom

Building Community Celebrating Tradition

113 New Krumkill Road, Albany, NY 12208 / (518) 489-4706 / Email Us /

Congregation Ohav Shalom Commemorates Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month

Posted on February 25, 2019

Congregation Ohav Shalom invites congregants and others to attend as we join together with Jewish organizations and communities from all over the world in a unified effort to raise awareness and champion the civil rights of individuals with disabilities at its Disabilities Awareness Shabbat on March 2, 2019 beginning at 9 a.m. and featuring speakers David and Emily Kieval.

The service, which is Ohav Shalom’s commemoration of Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month (JDAIM), will explore ways to expand the culture of inclusion of people with disabilities both at Ohav Shalom and throughout the local Jewish community. The Kievals will speak about “universal design” — creating events or activities with the concept of inclusion as part of the planning process, establishing accessibility as well as a welcoming atmosphere.

“Access to religion is a right just like access to education or transportation,” says Melanie Hecker, program co-chair for Ohav Shalom. “Religion is a huge part of people’s lives and people with disabilities deserve to experience it in full just like anyone else.”

In efforts to better illustrate the universal design concept, the Kievals will create an interactive experience during the Shabbat morning service. In addition, they will discuss a list of possible multi-modal strategies to engage individuals that might otherwise not feel involved, as well as share anecdotal stories to round out the program.

“I’m so pleased to see programming like this at Ohav Shalom,” said Rabbi Dan Ornstein. “Ohav is a warm and welcoming community of caring individuals. Programs like this ensure that every Jewish person is able to engage in Judaism. It’s great to welcome David and Emily back to Ohav to teach us new ways to ensure that people with disabilities have the opportunities they seek to pray, learn and grow with us.”

David Kieval, PsyD, BCBA grew up at Ohav Shalom. He is a pediatric clinical psychologist at Clinical & Support Options in Northampton, MA. Prior to moving to Northampton, he was on the clinical faculty in the Developmental Medicine Center at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. David’s efforts with a pilot social inclusion program at Camp Ramah (New England) became the basis for his doctoral dissertation at Rutgers University — establishing a template for successful implementation of disability-inclusive summer camp programming, while documenting the benefits of social inclusion for all involved parties.

Emily Kieval, MA, is the director of inclusion at Temple Shalom in Newton, MA, where she guides the development and implementation of proactive inclusive practices in worship, learning and programming across the lifespan. She also works as an independent educational consultant and parent coach. Emily has studied child language development and disability in diverse environments and populations. In the summers, Emily works as a parent liaison at Camp Ramah in New England.

An inclusive community is a stronger community, and while this quest is universal, Jewish values and traditions provide teachable moments to advance inclusion. JDAIM’s logo, a blue and gold intertwined ribbon that forms the Magen David, was designed to signify how inclusion is woven into every aspect of Jewish life and community.

The services will be followed by Kiddush. All are welcome to attend.

For more information about this program, please contact Nancy Pandolfo, Synagogue Administrator at 518.489.4706.