Gateways NewsBlog Feed

Gateways Teen Volunteers: Remote Learning Stars

By Sandy Gold, Director of Jewish Education Programs
March 18, 2021

The Gateways Jewish Education Programs are meeting remotely in Zoom break-out rooms this year. Each of our students work with two teen volunteers.

On one recent Sunday, I filled in for one of our teens who couldn't be there and I got to sit in on a full session with one of our new and youngest students. I say "sit in", because it was clear that the teen running the session did not need my help in any way! Oh, and did I mention, this session was a Hebrew lesson?

I'm not sure who I was most impressed with – Rebecca Redner for taking our unique Hebrew reading program and converting it to a digital format, complete with motivation emojis and Hebrew letters raining down? This teen, who so confidently and capably, is teaching so effectively in this remote setting? Or this young student, whose smile lights up the whole screen as he is embracing learning Hebrew as just one piece of his Jewish education?

This week marks one year since Gateways moved to a remote format. Yet, as I sat there that Sunday, in awe of what I watched unfolding on my screen, it reaffirmed for me, the importance of what we, at Gateways, are doing as we continue to embrace the value of a Jewish education.

 

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

 

Queen Esther and Overcoming Silence

By Tamar Davis, Chief Executive Officer
February 26, 2021

Happy Purim! I want to share with you my favorite passage from Megillat Esther: a moment of overcoming fear and choosing advocacy over silence. I relate this moment deeply with my own experience choosing to speak out about my disability, and to our mission at Gateways to be an active voice of inclusion. I hope you will watch and share in this moment with me.

Looking for resources to make your Purim as inclusive and accessible as possible? Check out our Purim page for stories, games, and more!

Category: Educational Practices

Tagged under: purim, holidays, inclusion

 

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

 

What JDAIM and Black History Month have in common

By Tamar Davis, Chief Executive Officer
February 12, 2021

Hopefully by now, we all know and celebrate that February is Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion Month (JDAIM), which was established in 2009. A much older and also critically important theme of February is Black History Month, which started in 1970 (its precursor actually started back in 1926!).

It might seem obvious to you, but I needed it pointed out to me that these two February themes, JDAIM and Black History Month, are both essentially about inclusion. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said it so eloquently: “It is not possible to be in favor of justice for some people and not be in favor of justice for all people.” Wherever we are, in or outside whatever Jewish spaces we live in, our vision of inclusion would not be complete without lifting up the voices of ALL those who are vulnerable.

In an effort to raise these voices, I wanted to share two wonderful lists of children's books from PJ Library for enjoyable and educational reading during Black History Month and JDAIM. I hope you will share your favorite stories with me.

Jewish Books for Black History Month

Jewish Books for JDAIM