A message from Adam Silver, CEO Calgary Jewish Federation

Calgary Jewish Federation CEO Adam Silver

by Adam Silver

(Calgary) – This month brings Tu B’Shevat, the New Year of the Trees, and next month is JDAIM – Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month. What an exciting back-to-back two months!

During Tu B’Shevat, we celebrate the season during which Israel’s early-blooming trees and plants blossom and spring to life. A relatively well known custom is to eat a new fruit on this day (something one hasn’t eaten before or for a long time), or to eat from the Seven Species (shivat haminim) described in the Bible as being abundant in the land of Israel. The shivat haminim (Deuteronomy 8:8) are: wheat, barley, grapes (vines), figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates. This time of year is not only a reset of sorts, but prescribes for us to slow down, mindfully appreciate the incredible bounty found in Israel, as well as introduce ourselves to new fruits. We are encouraged to appreciate some very special fruits, and to take a chance on new ones. It is a chag (holiday) of joy, celebration, and recognition – one that I encourage you and your families to explore and experience through the many programs being offered in our community.

As a stretch of an analogy, indulge my connection of Tu B’Shevat to JDAIM. Established in 2009 by the Jewish Special Education International Consortium, JDAIM is observed each February with the mission of uniting Jewish communities worldwide to raise awareness and champion the rights of all Jews to be accepted and included in all aspects of Jewish life like anyone else. JDAIM is not only intended to ensure Jewish communities around the world have one month focused on diverse programming for those with special needs. Rather, the intention, like Tu B’Shevat’s appreciation of wonderful and unique fruit, is to provide us with an opportunity to refocus our efforts to include and celebrate people of all abilities in our Jewish community.

There are many ways each of us can and should include those with varying abilities in our Jewish community, and JDAIM tasks us with just that directive. We each have the opportunity and responsibility to bring others into our circles, to not only adapt programming and services, but to apply new ways of thinking. If we apply a strengths-based perspective, we view each difference and need as a potential strength as opposed to a liability needing to be addressed. Acknowledging the different abilities and needs of others helps us build unique and innovative programming, and inspires us to apply different lenses to existing offerings. Doing so not only expands our active Jewish community, but improves it. Please be sure to participate in JDAIM events in the month of February and maintain an inclusive mindset yearound.

This is my first Pom message of 2024, so I want to wish everyone reading this a year filled with good health and an abundance of simcha. The last three months have been a horrific time for Jews and their allies around the globe and here too, in Calgary. May 2024 bring the safe return of all remaining hostages, the eradication of Hamas, peace and stability to Israel, and safety and sanity to communities around the world that continue to experience antisemitism at its highest level in decades. Our diverse, caring, and strong Jewish community has been strained but not broken – we have continued to stand together and to be proud, be resolute, and be Jewish.


Adam Silver is CEO, Calgary Jewish Federation.

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