There are many people in the Jewish community, for example, those with disabilities or Jews of color, who feel as if they are guests in their own community. They don't feel that they are totally welcomed, although they would like to feel at home and have much to contribute.
Jewish tradition, though, addresses these issues differently, as we will see in the sources below.
A midrash often studied on Shavuot, the holiday of the giving of the Torah, presents the idea that all Jews; past, present, and future, stood at Mt. Sinai to receive the revelation of Torah collectively, each in a way that they could understand it. This is the ultimate story of inclusion.
The notion that each person was created in the image of G-d—B’tzelem Elokim, with no human being greater or inferior to another, is stated early in the Torah. Everyone has inherent value as their full, authentic selves.
This point is made even more explicit during G-d's conversation with Moses at the burning bush. Moses objects to being chosen to confront Pharaoh in Egypt by pointing out that he is "slow of speech and slow of tongue". G-d's answer demonstrates His faith in people with disabilities as leaders and transmitters of Torah even when society sends contrary messages.
Inclusion is not a top-down endeavor. Indeed, it is bottom-up. The two sources below are examples of how rabbis who were blind took halakhah, Jewish law, into their own hands, resulting in permanent change and greater enfranchisement.
Inclusion is not only about leadership and bringing folks inside our community. It is also about fundamentally shifting our preexisting biases. The story of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, the editor of the Mishnah and a rabbi of such prominence that he is known only by the name "Rabbi", shows how the actions of one person can change perceptions for all time.
The story of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi greeting the blind scholar ends with him receiving a blessing. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi says, Now, if I had listened to you and not gone to greet him, you would have prevented me from receiving this blessing." Just think of all of the blessings that we are missing when we exclude members of the community. The Jewish community gains when we encourage and appreciate the talents that each individual has to offer.
The complete ELI Talk on the subject of inclusion can be watched below.