Getting To Know Our Honorees: Valerie Weisler
Q: What positive changes have you seen in the Jewish community vis-a-vis inclusion of people with disabilities during your lifetime?
A: I’ve seen the ways to be a Jewish kid grow beyond attending Hebrew school and having a bar/bat mitzvah. At my camp, Ramah Day Camp in Nyack, we have many campers with special needs and the opportunities provided for them to experience Judaism are constantly growing. We’re learning how to individualize the Jewish experience and I think that’s an incredibly powerful thing.
Q: In your opinion, what changes still need to happen, what progress still needs to be made?
A: I think we should talk more about disability and inclusion in Jewish settings – if the conversation isn’t happening, then students and educators aren’t going to know that it’s okay to be different and it’s crucial to be advocate for those who are.
Q: Who is the person in your life who influenced you the most to make a difference vis-a-vis disability and inclusion?
A: My mother! She always taught me to look out for the underdog – and that it was more than okay to be quirky and out of the box.