I look back at the start of 2020 and hold tight to the silver linings.
First, we have been able to attend MORE religious activities, but remotely. Zoom and livestreaming have allowed us to attend services from four different local synagogues. We hope that a hybrid of services in person and remote will be offered in the future for those interested.
My wife and I learn and exercise from Facebook Live and Zoom programs locally from the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta (MJCCA) and around the world. We even took two virtual bus tours of Israel with the Jewish National Fund (JNF). One focused on many programs in Israel for persons with disabilities. We learned from ORT how school systems around the world are coping with COVID remotely. While I hope all schools will restart in person soon, “distance learning” opened an opportunity for us and for school children to enhance their education.
Local organizations have stepped forward to provide more to the community and in different innovative manners, whether it is food pantries or helping seniors or helping provide financial assistance. We should be very proud and thankful for what our local agencies have done and are capable of sustaining. The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, Jewish Family & Career Services (JF&CS) and Jewish Interest Free Loan of Atlanta (JIFLA) are just some examples of leadership in these areas.
I have been very involved with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities for nearly 30 years. I have seen great improvement in respect, inclusion and services. The biggest hope I have for 5781 is greater inclusion for this population. How can each of us treat persons with disabilities with full inclusion in ALL our community’s programs and provide opportunities for employment?
Sid Besmertnik serves on the boards of JF&CS and ORT America, and is a member of the Jewish Abilities Alliance committee.