Editor's Note: Thanks to our friends at the Foundation for Jewish Camp for coordinating this series of blogs from camp. More voices to come!
We have all heard that Jewish summer camp is one of the most valuable experiences a parent can give their child to ensure a strong Jewish foundation. If you think of it as a construction project, the footings beneath the foundation is the community and together, this community builds the foundation they share. As each child grows into an adult, the shared experience of community-building in a Jewish context continues to strengthen his or her Jewish foundation.
But the Jewish child with disabilities who cannot have a summer camp experience is left with an unstable foundation or worse, no Jewish foundation. As the parent of a child on the autism spectrum, I live with the fear shared by all parents of children with disabilities: Who will be my child’s community when I am no longer here to provide it?
Editor's Note: This month, the Ruderman Family Foundation awarded five prizes to agencies across the world that are making the Jewish community into a more inclusive one. The New Normal will profile each of these amazing agencies over the next month.
JewishCare’s Big Brother Big Sister (BBBS) Program mentors Jewish children and young adults who may be facing challenges and adversity in their lives. Based in Sydney, the program helps these youth, about a third of whom have a disabilitiy, through the ongoing support and friendship of a big brother/sister mentor. JewishCare has developed strong links with local schools, synagogues and community groups to raise awareness about issues facing young people with a disability, and about the importance of their inclusion into mainstream services.
JewishCare staff members speak at local Jewish high schools about the BBBS program, and about how having a positive mentor can make a big difference for all kids, including those with a disability.
Although they rank high among Nobel Prize winners, Jews are not generally known for their athletics. But as “Chasing Dreams” at Philadelphia’s National Museum of American Jewish History demonstrates, baseball has fielded its way through the American Jewish psyche, from its very beginnings.
Last week, I found myself wearing an oversized camp T-shirt, sitting on the back of a bus headed up to the mountains for a field trip with a bunch of squirmy but excited campers. It was a bit of an "How did I get here?" moment. After all, I am a full time occupational therapist working in early intervention, not an educator looking to bring in a summer salary. I paid my dues working as a junior counselor, then a counselor at numerous camps … but that was 18 years ago. I have two children of my own now, both campers themselves.
It is my commitment to inclusion for Jewish children with disabilities and differences of all stripes in all aspects of religious life that led me to pack my own water bottle and sunscreen and venture onto "the field," so to speak.
Towards the end of a report on the Nightly News Monday evening NBC Anchor Brian Williams read a statement from Hamas accusing Israel of "murdering" hundreds of civilians and denying that his group had ever targeted Israeli civilians.
Hamas spokesman Osama Hamdan did not appear on camera, as he has on other networks, but Williams read his statement:
Editor's Note: Yesterday we featured another voice from Israel, "Sleepless in Jerusalem." We appreciate Miriam and Beth bringing us their perspectives during this very hard time.
This summer, noises make me jumpy. “What if I miss a siren,” I wonder to myself, thinking of a friend who lives in a neighborhood where she depends on friends to SMS her when the siren blares. The loudspeakers just don’t work right.
What if I’m not near Akiva, our youngest who has special needs, when the siren blows? Happily, he’s coped, even one Saturday afternoon when the siren blew during B’nai Akiva, the local youth movement not known for its organization and planning.
If you're like me, you've been closely following the latest fighting between Israel and Hamas, and trying to dig out from under a flood of urgent appeals -- phone, snail mail and email -- from Jewish groups urging you to "show your support" for Israel.