1The modern Hebrew word for listening is הקשבה hakshavah. We have chosen to use Shema partly because the root of shin-mem-ayin is often used in the Torah as, “to listen, pay attention,” and largely because the prayer Shema (from Deuteronomy 6:4) is in part a call to all of the People Israel to listen to one another in a common declaration of faith. Here we are calling each other to listen to each other, to make human connections across our differences and between our commonalities.
2Person-first language gives kavod (dignity and respect) to people through the phrases we use, by putting the humanity of an individual before their disability. We understand that this is just one aspect of who they are. Instead of saying “she’s deaf” we might say, “she has a hearing loss;” instead of saying, “he’s autistic,” we might say, “he has autism.” But to be sure that the person or family feels respected, we try to ask them how they would like to be introduced or approached and what language feels most comfortable for them.
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