Posts in category "Reflections & Perspectives"

Thank you, Teachers

By Tamar Davis, Chief Executive Officer
May 7, 2021

There are many educators in my family, and one thing I know is when we get to this time of year, teachers (and students!) are counting a different kind of Omer – the Omer of counting until school is out. That feeling is surely heightened this year because of the sheer intensity of adapting to a pandemic-driven school environment. Yet, even as this school year starts winding down, the level of commitment from our educators never wavers.

How appropriate then that this week we celebrated National Teacher Appreciation Week. The origins of this week date back to the 1950s, when First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt lobbied for a National Teacher Appreciation Day before Congress. When National Teacher Appreciation Week as we know it now was established in the 1980s, the National Education Association (NEA) felt that the purpose of this week should be to “not only honor teachers but to show them that they help make lasting impressions on their students’ lives.” So this week, I’m dedicating this space to all our teachers and educators who work tirelessly at or with Gateways to ensure that every child is able to participate meaningfully in Jewish life and learning.

Thank you for all you do each and every day to engage our children in learning, to cultivate their curiosity and awareness of the world around them, and to foster a sense of belonging in our Jewish tradition and community.

Category: Reflections & Perspectives

Tagged under: day school, teaching

 

The Triumph of Choice

By Tamar Davis, Chief Executive Officer
April 23, 2021

In this week's video message, I share some thoughts inspired by the third season of Shtisel (don't worry, no spoilers!) and show how they speak to Gateways' mantra: that inclusion is about the triumph of the power of choice.

I hope you'll check the video out and share your thoughts on these ideas (and, of course, on Shtisel's season three) with me. 

Category: Reflections & Perspectives

 

Binge watching and being inspirational

By Tamar Davis, Chief Executive Officer
March 12, 2021

This week, as many of us are marking the one year anniversary of when life as we knew it changed drastically, I share with you one particular "binge-watch" that has gotten me through tough days this year. I hope you'll check out my video message to hear how “I don’t want to be just an inspiration, I want to be taken seriously,” reminded me why our work at Gateways continues to be so significant.

Category: Reflections & Perspectives

Tagged under: media portrayals, defeating ableism

 

Dismantling discrimination and cultivating kindness

By Tamar Davis, Chief Executive Officer
February 19, 2021

Last week, I shared two PJ Library children’s book lists as part of the February theme of inclusion that we are celebrating through Black History Month and JDAIM, Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month. This week, I want to reflect on some thoughts I had while reading Ibram X. Kendi’s How To Be An Antiracist, also a fitting read for this month (for adults!).

I’m fascinated by Kendi’s approach to dismantling racism, where it’s not enough to simply say that we are against racism. Rather, we need to name racism wherever we see it, to actively reject racism, and to build a society that is inherently antiracist. I think about how we could apply Kendi’s approach to dismantling stigma around and discrimination of those with disabilities and mental health challenges. Can we remember a moment where we saw and understood that an act of discrimination was happening? What did we do in that moment? Or afterwards? What can we do today?

The 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) were both steps in the right direction, but we still have much to do to break down systemic inequity, discrimination, and racism. As Judy Heumann, a lifelong civil rights advocate who helped pave the way for the passage of the ADA, said recently:

“Speaking about oppression and discrimination is hard to do, and many people have difficulty listening and looking at what role they play in allowing discrimination to continue. But ableism, racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination will only end when we, as a society, hold ourselves accountable and no longer make excuses that condone past and current practices. On a daily basis, I try to be aware and take action to make changes in my life that advance justice and equity for all people.”

We are reminded of that idea this Shabbat, the week before Purim, when we are called upon as Jews to remember what Amalek did to us on the way from Egypt, and to wipe out the memory of Amalek from under the heavens. Some commentaries say that Amalek is no longer a physical nation, rather it represents the forces of evil and injustice in this world. The commandment to wipe out Amalek is a stark and clear reminder that it is not enough to recognize and remember acts of injustice—but we must actively eradicate these acts and prevent them from occurring again, today and in generations to come.

Let us model for our children how to actively advocate against all forms of discrimination—racism, ableism, antisemitism, and so on. And let us continue cultivating kindness and compassion, because as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr said, “Ultimately, a great nation is a compassionate nation.”

Notes:

  • Continue the conversation about cultivating kindness by joining us for Parenting with Purpose, "The Power of Collaboration: Raising Human Beings" with speaker Ross Greene, next Thursday, February 25th. Register here!
  • Judy Heumann, whom I quoted above and who featured in the acclaimed film Crip Camp, will be interviewed by Temple Emanuel on February 28th, in a program co-sponsored by Gateways. Register for the session here.

Category: Reflections & Perspectives

Tagged under: inclusion, anti-discrimination, activism

 

Climbing the Hill

By Tamar Davis, Chief Executive Officer
January 22, 2021

On this historic week of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Inauguration, I reflect upon both the words that Dr. King spoke many years ago and those that inaugural poet Amanda Gorman spoke only two days ago in her poem, "The Hill We Climb."

In this video, I share how these words of perseverance and hope speak to my own experience as a person with a disability and to our imperative at Gateways to overcome inertia—to keep climbing the hill—when it comes to advocating for our community members and making inclusion the birthright of our children.

I hope you will share with me the quotes from Dr. King and "The Hill We Climb" that have inspired you this week.

Category: Reflections & Perspectives

Tagged under: reflections, advocacy, inclusion