"Unveiling the Power of Yom Kippur: Exposing the Cruelty of Ableism"yomkippur,ableism,power,cruelty,unveiling
"Unveiling the Power of Yom Kippur: Exposing the Cruelty of Ableism"

“Unveiling the Power of Yom Kippur: Exposing the Cruelty of Ableism”

Rethinking Ableism: Building a World That Welcomes Us

Rabbi Julia Watts Belser calls for an end to ableism

In her thought-provoking article, Rabbi Julia Watts Belser reflects on the haunting moment in Jewish liturgy when mortality and mystery are acknowledged. While the traditional sentiment suggests that God is the one deciding who will live and who will die, Belser shifts the focus to the world we live in and the cruelty inherent within it. She sees a world that prioritizes efficiency and productivity over decency and care, a world that perpetuates racism, queer and trans hatred, and disability injustice.

An Insightful Yom Kippur Practice

Belser shares her personal practice during Yom Kippur, a day of reflection and repentance in the Jewish faith. While the congregants recite the traditional lines that contemplate how people may pass away, she calls to mind the names of those who have died prematurely. She highlights the stories of individuals like Carrie Ann Lucas, Twilla June Morin, Eric Garner, Tanisha Anderson, Keith Lamont Scott, and Stacey Park Milbern. Each of these individuals represents the price paid by disabled people, elders, and marginalized communities due to systemic failures and discrimination. Belser urges us to remember their stories and recommit to fighting for a world that values disabled lives.

The Brutality of Ableism

Drawing upon a story from the Talmud, Belser illustrates the brutality of ableism. The story describes a wicked city where travelers are forced to fit onto a single bed, in which the beds are stretched or truncated to accommodate each person. This tale serves as a metaphor for the violence that ensues when society tries to fit complex bodies and minds into a one-size-fits-all mold. Belser argues that our current world has chosen to prioritize normativity over the celebration of human diversity, resulting in the marginalized suffering the most.

A Call to Transform the World

Belser challenges us to shift our perspective and flip the script on ableism. Rather than seeing disability as a personal failure, she calls for a collective effort to change the world in which we live. The exclusion of disabled people is not inherent, but a consequence of policy choices, built environments, and entrenched cultural norms. Belser emphasizes that it is within our power to create a world that recognizes and celebrates the uniqueness of every individual, a world free from ableism.

The Responsibility of All

Belser asserts that dismantling ableism requires all of us to be active participants. She argues that none of us have bodies or minds that will always conform to societal expectations, and thus, we are all at risk in a world that treats bodies as obstacles. To challenge ableism, Belser implores us to become aware of the normative structures embedded in our lives, to question and change policies that disenfranchise disabled individuals, and to design inclusive environments that acknowledge and accommodate diverse bodies and minds.

Editorial: Embracing Diversity and Challenging Ableism

Building a Future That Celebrates Neurodiversity and Inclusivity

Belser’s powerful words resonate beyond the confines of Yom Kippur prayers. They remind us of our responsibility to shape a world that celebrates differences and champions inclusivity. Ableism is a social issue that affects us all, and it is imperative that we recognize and challenge the oppressive structures that perpetuate it.

Recognizing the Cost of Normativity

Belser exposes the hidden costs of normativity, highlighting how various marginalized communities suffer due to their deviation from societal norms. Fat bodies, Black and Brown bodies, Jewish and Muslim bodies, and the bodies of LGBTQIA+ individuals all face the consequences of normative expectations. By acknowledging these costs, we can better understand the urgency of dismantling ableism and other forms of systemic discrimination.

Shifting the Conversation

Belser urges us to move away from an individualized approach to disability and towards a collective responsibility to create a more inclusive world. By focusing on the societal structures and policies that perpetuate ableism, we can foster change that benefits everyone, leading to a society that values the inherent worth and dignity of all individuals.

Advice: Taking Action Against Ableism

Educate Yourself

Take the initiative to learn about ableism, its history, and its impact on individuals and communities. Familiarize yourself with disability rights and advocacy organizations that challenge ableist norms and work towards inclusivity.

Amplify Voices

Listen to the experiences and perspectives of disabled individuals. Elevate their voices and stories by sharing their work, advocating for their rights, and challenging ableist narratives.

Examine Your Own Bias

Reflect on your own attitudes and behaviors towards disability. Consider the ways in which you may unknowingly contribute to ableism and how you can actively unlearn and dismantle these biases.

Advocate for Change

Support policies and initiatives that promote accessibility, accommodation, and inclusivity. Write to your elected officials, attend public meetings, and participate in activism to ensure that disability rights are upheld and protected.

Challenge Ableism in your Social Circles

Engage in conversations with family, friends, and colleagues about ableism. Encourage empathy, understanding, and inclusion within your social circles by challenging ableist language, attitudes, and practices.

Create Inclusive Spaces

Look for opportunities to create inclusive environments in your personal and professional life. Advocate for physical accessibility, provide accommodations, and promote diversity in hiring practices and representation.

In conclusion, Rabbi Julia Watts Belser’s article opens our eyes to the pervasiveness of ableism in our society. Her call to reframe disability as a social issue and actively work towards inclusivity challenges us to confront our own biases and take action. By embracing diversity and advocating for change, we can build a world that cherishes the inherent worth and dignity of every individual, regardless of their abilities.


"Unveiling the Power of Yom Kippur: Exposing the Cruelty of Ableism"
<< photo by Rosemary Ketchum >>
The image is for illustrative purposes only and does not depict the actual situation.

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G'day, mates! I'm Greg Buckley, and I've been reporting here in the land Down Under for the last 15 years. I'm all about sports and culture, so if there's a footy match or an art exhibit, you'll likely see me there. Let's give it a burl together, Australia!

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