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People with disabilities and mental health conditions, and those who love them want what everyone wants—to belong and participate in Jewish life. What’s the state of inclusion and belonging as we approach 5781 in new ways? How can our community organizations include people with disabilities and mental health conditions in Jewish life? Looking ahead to the High Holidays and the rest of the year, Shelly will provide strategies to support belonging and inclusion. She’ll also talk about how our organizations can participate in Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion Month (JDAIM) in February 2021.

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Speaker Bio:

Shelly Christensen, MA

Shelly Christensen is a pioneer in the faith community disability inclusion movement, an international speaker, author and consultant. Her new book is From Longing to Belonging–A Practical Guide to Including People with Disabilities and Mental Health Conditions in Your Faith Community.

Shelly has been at the forefront of Jewish community inclusion for 19 years, leading and guiding Jewish organizations in innovative practices. She co-founded Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion Month (JDAIM) in 2009 and serves as its organizer.  She directed the award-winning Jewish Community Inclusion Program for People with Disabilities in Minneapolis for 13 years before founding her consulting group, Inclusion Innovations. Shelly has contributed to many Jewish inclusion initiatives including the Union for Reform Judaism, Yachad, the Ruderman Chabad Inclusion Initiative, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Jewish Federations of North America, and the Jewish Leadership Institute on Disabilities and Inclusion.  Shelly is the co-host of the “Everyone’s Welcome—A Fresh Conversation About Disability” webinars and podcasts. She is a Fellow of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and past president of its Religion and Spirituality Professional Network.

Shelly believes that people with disabilities and mental health conditions, and those who love them, want what anyone else wants—to belong, to contribute, and to be a valued member of their Jewish community. Shelly lives in Minneapolis with her husband, Rick. They have three sons, one of whom lives with a disability.

With insight, passion, and humor, Shelly provides pathways that encourage all Jewish organizations to move from longing to belonging.


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