Super Mario Bros. and an Inclusive Jewish Community

I love this video.

The sounds bring me back to my childhood. Having grown up in the 80s, Super Mario Brothers and Nintendo were big parts of my life. But I don’t just love this video because of the adrenaline rush I feel as I see and hear Mario gathering coins and other special items and bouncing around on the screen as he rushes to the flagpole and ultimately to his goal of saving Princess Toadstool. I love this particular video because of its message: we need to include people with diverse physical needs.

Inclusion means that all people – people of any and all abilities – can participate. Inclusion means being welcoming. Inclusion means communities are enhanced, because more people can take part. Inclusion means we embrace all.

This morning, I visited a local synagogue that I hadn’t been to before. The building is more than 100 years old and was not built with consideration of the needs of individuals with physical disabilities. So, this community has made it a priority to update its building, starting with inclusive restrooms and now adding an elevator.

The Jewish community is enhanced when we welcome fully all participants who want to be part of our community. Our buildings need to accommodate all people, including those with and without physical disabilities.

We need to continue to work so that the Jewish community and Jewish organizations within it are inclusive to all – that means limiting barriers like cost, geography, and access for people with special needs. It also means being fully welcoming to the diverse participants in our community, whether singles, interfaith couples, or Jewish-Jewish couples, whether heterosexual couples or LGBTQ couples and individuals, to give just a few examples.

The Jewish community is a more beautiful community when we welcome and include all people.

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