JDAIM Reads: Great Books For YOUR Community!


I am pleased to announce the selections of Ketchup Is My Favorite Vegetable by Liane Kupferberg Carter and The Little Gate-Crasher by Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer, as the 2017 Jewish Disability Awareness & Inclusion Month (JDAIM) featured reading selections. Now in its ninth year, Jewish Disability Awareness & Inclusion Month (JDAIM) is a unified international initiative during the month of February to raise disability awareness and support efforts to foster inclusion in Jewish communities worldwide.

Each year, several books by Jewish authors highlighting disability issues are chosen for JDAIM Reads. Synagogues, JCCs, book groups and other organizations are encouraged to read and discuss these books during February. An event with Carter and Kaplan-Mayer is scheduled for Philadelphia on February 26th and both authors are available to lead book talks in person or via Skype.

In Ketchup is My Favorite Vegetable: A Family Grows Up With Autism, Liane Kupferberg Carter delivers a mother’s insight into what really goes on in the two decades after diagnosis. From the double-blow of a subsequent epilepsy diagnosis, to bullying, Bar Mitzvahs and prom, Mickey’s struggles and triumphs along the road to adulthood are honestly detailed to show how one family learned to grow and thrive with autism.

  In The Little-Gate Crasher: the Life And Photos of Mace Bugen. Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer shares her amazing Great-Uncle Mace Bugen–an unstoppable spirit, first generation Jewish American, self-made millionaire, celebrity gate-crasher–who was 43 inches tall. Mace’s unstoppable spirit defied the challenges of his own physical limitations and society’s prejudices towards people with dwarfism.


A few ideas about how you and your community can use these great books about disability inclusion:

  • Read! Memoirs offer us the opportunity to step into a life experience that may seem initially very different from our own. Both books offer a window into rich life experiences, full of struggles, transformation, the strength of family and many important themes.
  • Share with your book group: We’ve created book discussion guides for your book group. If you’re not in a formal book group, pull together some friends and read together. Our authors will even Skype right in your living room to have a discussion. This doesn’t need to be in February—anytime is great.
  • Plan a book talk for your synagogue: During JDAIM, our focus is on transforming synagogues into welcoming, inclusive communities. These books provide a way to raise awareness and reflect on your disability inclusion efforts. The JDAIM 2017 program guide offers many additional resources.
  • Like JDAIM on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JewishDisabilityAwarenessMonth/ and use #JDAIM17 in social media. Doing this will keep you updated on all the JDAIM activities worldwide!

Learn more about JDAIM and JDAIM Reads at http://inclusioninnovations.com.

Shelly Christensen, MA FAAIDD, is the co-founder of Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month. Shelly literally wrote the book on inclusion, Jewish Community Guide to Inclusion of People with Disabilities. She is on the faculty of the Union for Reform Judaism, the Jewish Leadership Institute on Disabilities and Inclusion, and is on the Ruderman Chabad Inclusion Initiative core team. Shelly is a frequent speaker and consults with Jewish and other faith communities. She and her husband have three sons, one of whom lives with Asperger syndrome, two grandsons and a Deaf Sheltie named Penina. Reach her at Shelly@inclusioninnovations.com.