Disability Wisdom & Spirituality

The Pulse

01-10-2023 • 24分

In this episode Joeita is joined by Rabbi Julia Watts Belser. They discuss the ableism and misconceptions surrounding disabilities in religious communities. Julia, who is a rabbi and scholar, emphasizes the importance of loving and embracing oneself as a disabled person in a world that often devalues and stigmatizes disabilities. They also explore the need for religious communities to move away from treating disabled individuals as symbols of suffering or inspiration and instead recognize their complexity and full humanity. Julia examines biblical texts and traditions, highlighting the presence of disability and challenging the ableist narratives often associated with them. The conversation concludes with a call for disability justice and the dismantling of ableism in society.


Link to Rabbi Belser's Book: "Loving Our Own Bones: Disability Wisdom and the Spiritual Subversiveness of Knowing Ourselves Whole"



Episode Highlights

The two discuss the new book "Loving Our Own Bones: Disability Wisdom and the Spiritual Subversiveness of Knowing Ourselves Whole.” (2:13)

Rabbi Watts Belser explains the Bible and the imagery of disability. (5:03)

Is there a way to do charitable work in a religious context without being paternalistic to people with disabilities?(6:42)

Interpretations of certain religious texts that are central to our cultural beliefs? (9:34)

Where do disabled and non-disabled people go from here? (19:01)

Rabbi Watts Belser reads an excerpt from her book "Loving Our Own Bones: Disability Wisdom and the Spiritual Subversiveness of Knowing Ourselves Whole.” (21:28)


About Rabbi Julia Watts Belser

Julia Watts Belser is a Professor of Jewish Studies in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, as well as core faculty in Georgetown’s Disability Studies Program and a Senior Research Fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. Her research centers on gender, sexuality, and disability in rabbinic literature, as well as queer feminist Jewish ethics and theology. She directs Disability and Climate Change: A Public Archive Project, an initiative that documents the wisdom and insights of disabled activists, artists, and first responders on the frontlines of the climate crisis.

Her work brings ancient texts into conversation with disability studies, queer theory, feminist thought, and environmental ethics. She has held faculty fellowships at Harvard Divinity School and the Katz Center for Advanced Jewish Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Rabbinic Tales of Destruction: Gender, Sex, and Disability in the Ruins of Jerusalem (Oxford University Press, 2018) and Power, Ethics, and Ecology: Rabbinic Responses to Drought and Disaster (Cambridge University Press, 2015). Her most recent book is Loving Our Own Bones: Disability Wisdom and the Spiritual Subversiveness of Knowing Ourselves Whole (Beacon Press, 2023; published in the UK by Hodder & Stoughton).

A rabbi and a longtime advocate for disability and gender justice, Belser writes queer feminist Jewish theology and brings disability arts and culture into conversation with Jewish tradition. She co-authored an international Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities (Hesperian Foundation, 2007), developed in collaboration with disability activists from 42 countries and translated into 14 languages, designed to help challenge the root causes of poverty, gender violence, and disability discrimination. She’s an avid wheelchair hiker, a lover of wild places, and a passionate supporter of disability dance.

Reference: https://gufaculty360.georgetown.edu/s/contact/00336000014TWyHAAW/julia-watts-belser

About The Pulse

On The Pulse, host Joeita Gupta brings us closer to issues impacting the disability community across Canada.

Joeita Gupta has nurtured a life-long dream to work in radio! She's blind, moved to Toronto in 2004 and got her start in radio at CKLN, 88.1 FM in Toronto. A former co-host of AMI-audio's Live from Studio 5, Joeita also works full-time at a nonprofit in Toronto, specializing in housing/tenant rights.

Find Joeita on X / Twitter: https://twitter.com/JoeitaGupta

The Pulse airs weekly on AMI-audio.

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