I attended the “Reel Abilities” Film Festival at the JCC in Manhattan. This festival is unique in that all the movies share a common theme and focus on people with various kinds of disabilities – physical, cognitive or psychiatric; genetic, congenital or acquired.
I love these movies as they give me a different perspective on the world and educates me on those forms of disabilities that I am not as familiar with.
As one on the opening night speakers said of the festival, “It open minds, creates engaged conversations and has the potential to change lives”. In principal I agree. And yet, almost everyone in the audience either works in the field of disabilities or has a personal connection to someone with a disability. The festival was awarded a grant from the Mayor’s Office that paid for advertising for the festival in cabs and other places to reach a larger audience. Yet it felt like the movies were preaching to the choir.
I was at AIPAC recently, the pro-Israel policy conference. There was 14, 000 people in one room supporting Israel. It has an electric feel but again it’s preaching to the choir, to those already pro-Israel.
Perhaps though, the choir has to learn to sing. Perhaps we all need to be like the heroine Esther from the Megila – the Purim story that we will read this Saturday evening and Sunday morning. Esther had the opportunity to take a stand for a cause, the very survival of the Jewish people. She could watch the events go by passively or she could risk her life and make a difference. Whether we are part of the special needs world, pro-Israel community or another cause, are we just absorbing and passively watching or will be the change agents, the leaders, the voice and the heroes of a cause?
Originally published: March 14, 2014