How Can You Tell if Your Community is Inclusive?



Have you ever had a teen look at you with that look of “duh” on his or her face? You know, the look that says, “Why are we even having this conversation? I know it all already!” The look that’s usually mixed with that subtle (or not so subtle) hint of adolescent arrogance that is intended to make you feel just a little inferior for even having opened the conversation.

I love teens. I mean I really love them. They think they know everything, but deep down know they have so much more to learn. They think they are invincible, but are afraid to ever admit they feel vulnerable. I love them. And I love their angst.

So when I got a room full of “duh”, I couldn't have been happier.

You see, I was teaching a lesson on the Jewish values surrounding disability inclusion. I shared an interactive activity that engaged them in a way that was meant to mirror the frustrations some feel in learning situations, while allowing them to engage with Jewish texts.

How do you know if your community is inclusive? Removing the Stumbling Block

And here is what I learned: While fun (the kids told me they liked it) I observed this collective sense of “duh”. As in, “Why are we doing this, Lisa? We get inclusion.”

Yes, yes they do. Their attitudes and their body language showed me what I already knew and confirmed what I hoped was true. Inclusion is a value that is ingrained in who we are as an inclusive congregation and it’s just a seamless part of what we do. It's honestly never been a question for these kids. They have never wondered why, because it just is. So an intentional lesson to explore the Jewish value of inclusion was just a little bit lost on them. How cool is that?

So there you go. You know how to tell if you have a truly inclusive community? When everyone can look at you with a collective sense of “duh” and think, of course we are!

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