Inclusion as a movement advocates for the opportunity for all people to fully participate in society. While there has been much progress on eliminating the historical marginalization of people with disabilities, our communities still have much work to do to create welcoming spaces for all people. People with disabilities still experience many types of barriers, physical and architectural as well as attitudinal and cultural, to their full participation as equal and valued members of our communities.

The Rohr Jewish Learning Institute course, Toward Inclusion, is predicated on the understanding that real and enduring societal change is achieved by transforming individual minds and hearts. The course draws on sources from psychology, classic Jewish teachings from Jewish scholars and authors through the ages, legal theory and social science, as well as, first-person accounts from individuals with disabilities—to explore the limits of our own perception, the inherent dignity of humanity, social responsibility, and the importance of ethical practice. An exploration of these theories and studies, and an examination of how they can be applied in our daily interactions with others, will hopefully serve to develop and nurture true and enduring inclusion in our communities.



Starting December 17th
9:30-11:00 a.m.

Traditional Congregation

12437 Ladue Rd., 63141 

$18 / textbook

For more information:
Call: 314-725-0400 ext. 3 
Email: [email protected]

Facilitated by Rabbi Levi Landa


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LESSON 1 It’s Not You; it’s Me: The Limits of Human Perception

While society has largely abandoned explicit negative beliefs about disabilities that historically marginalized and mistreated people with disabilities, many people with disabilities still face barriers and stigmas that impede their ability to fully participate in society.

A growing body of research utilizing the Implicit Association Test indicates that a consistent pattern of moderate to strong negative, implicit (less consciously-controllable) biases were found with little or no association with people’s explicit attitudes and professed values. 

The findings question the basic assumption that one can be objective about their own perception and interactions with people with disabilities.
The lesson also introduces the theory of Inclusion and its goals.


LESSON 2 The Theory of Inclusion: On Human Worth and Dignity

Often, people with disabilities are defined and identified by their disabilities. It follows that their talents and personality (good - and bad - traits) as well as their ability to contribute and participate are overlooked.
Lesson Two explores the dehumanizing effects of this attitude and how “People-first language”, and similar thought and actions can open society to include everyone.

Predicated on the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis which states that language use significantly shapes perceptions of the world and forms ideological preconceptions, People-first language is a linguistic prescription that calls for using a sentence structure that names the person first and the condition second.  For example, saying "people with disabilities" rather than "disabled people" or "disabled", emphasizes that "they are people first" and their physical or intellectual disability is a secondary attribute and is not a characteristic of a person's identity.

The lesson also discusses the preference of some, including many in the Autistic and Deaf communities for Identity-first language, which proudly embraces their disability as an identity and culture with an inherent way of looking at and experiencing the world.



LESSON 3 Am I My Brother’s Keeper: The Ethics of Responsibility

Marginalization of and prejudice against people with disabilities is a societal problem and requires broad-based, legally enforceable regulations to ensure fair treatment. To that end, the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990 to prevent discrimination against people with disabilities.

Beyond following the law, to what extent are we responsible, as individuals, to stand up for inclusion? Lesson Three explores Jewish paradigms of leadership including Abraham and Moses that stood up for the downtrodden at personal expense.  Our resounding ‘yes’ to the famous biblical question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” is both an indicator of mental well-being and an act with positive consequences that leads to a happier, more purposeful and positive outlook.


LESSON 4 A Call to Action: Overcoming Barriers to Inclusion

Lesson Four concludes the course and addresses the questions that arise when principles meet practice: What constitutes a disability? What are the common obstacles to inclusion?  This problem is so prevalent in society, how can my individual actions possibly make a difference? Practically speaking, what can I do to help further inclusion? Where do I start?