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Saturday, February 24, 2018

There certainly are events in Israel, Europe, on Capitol Hill and locally that impact all of us. Goodness knows it’s been a wild week on Wall Street, and issues such as funding the federal government, immigration and others seem ever-present.

But let’s not forget that despite the cold weather, February is truly one of the “warmest” months of the year. That’s because we underscore our care and love for family members and friends with disabilities. Indeed, some eight years ago, the Orthodox Union’s Yachad created North American Inclusion Month to recognize and validate the need for more opportunities for people with disabilities, especially in the areas of education and employment.

Indeed, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill back in 2010 by a vote of 389-0 to recognize the Orthodox Union’s initiative to designate February as North American Inclusion Month. This year, New Jersey’s Yachad Vocational Program is quite literally making its mark on the month by assembling siddur magnets to help mark the tefillot in siddurim. These magnets are attached to a card that has instructions on how to ensure a more inclusive tefillah and service.

Yachad is an important program that brings our community together and helps, through programming ranging from shul activities, sports and shabbatonim, make everyone involved feel wanted and valued.

We’d like to stress that Yachad’s important mission does not come to an end when February turns into March. Quite the contrary. Yachad is here for us year round. Designating February as NAIM perfectly underscores how this beautiful program enlightens our lives to the needs of our Jewish community members who live among us.

So yes, it’s cold and icy out there.

But inclusion warms our soul and spirit…even in February.