Month of Jewish disability programming ends with a Purim party

Jewish COmmunity Services' 2019 Purim party
Attendees at Jewish Community Services’ 2019 Purim party at the Weinberg Park Heights JCC (Courtesy of Jewish Community Services)

Jewish Community Services capped off their list of events for Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion Month with a Feb. 24 Purim party.

JDAIM is “a time that those of us who work in the disability community can share with the rest of the community what we do,” said Jamie Leboe, a career coach at the JCS Ignite Career Center, who worked to organize the event. “We can bring them into our environment, and we can educate them on the great things that those with disabilities do and focus on their abilities and include them.

“We really are striving to be inclusive, so we want the nondisability population to be included with the disability population,” Leboe continued. “And I think our Purim party is a good example.”

JCS has been organizing an annual Purim party for the past 24 years, Leboe explained, though never before have they had one that was specifically connected to JDAIM, as the parties had never taken place in February before. When organizers realized that Purim would fall in February this year, they decided to include the Purim party within their JDAIM programming.

That being said, the annual Purim party, Leboe emphasized, much like JCS’ annual Chanukah party and Passover celebration, had always been designed to be particularly inclusive of people with disabilities.

In previous years, the Purim party was held at the Weinberg Park Heights JCC, Leboe said. Due to the pandemic, however, this year it was held via Zoom.

Past JCS Purim parties have included live DJs, carnival games and a Purim spiel.

Speaking prior to the event, Leboe said that this year’s virtual party would be very similar aside from the switch to the online format, along with musical performances by three of the JCS’ clients.

The day before the party, JCS organized a hamantaschen cooking class, where participants were encouraged to save their baked goods for the next day’s festivities, noted Sara Amin, a manager of marketing and communications at JCS.

A possible benefit of the move to the virtual format, Amin speculated, was the chance for a greater turnout of attendees.

“Another great thing about it being virtual is that more people can attend because there might be some folks who are less likely to leave their home for that kind of activity or are unable to leave their home,” Amin said. “And this way they can join in the fun from the comfort of their own home.”

Several days prior to the party, Leboe noted, they had received 60 RSVPs, up from past years that typically see around 50 attendees.

“People love them,” Leboe said on what the yearly Purim party means to participants. “They look forward to them every year. People were actually asking … would we be having a Purim party this year. It’s very meaningful, something that people look forward to, just having fun and celebrating together.”

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