Michelle Steinhart's blog

Inclusion Is Great. Now What?

The concept of inclusion seems important to most people. On a gut level, most people would agree strongly that “it’s the right thing to do.”  With that said, are we ready to change our behavior to ensure inclusion can be a reality?

The author's children. Courtesy of Michelle Steinhart

Holy Brothers and Sisters: Our Brother’s Keepers

As part of Jewish Disability Awareness Month 2012, my daughter Shaina, now 11, addressed a group of third through sixth graders at Temple Israel Center in White Plains. This is what she said:

“Hi, my name is Shaina and I am 8 years old.  I have a brother and his name is Avi. He is 11 years old. Avi loves to play like all other kids but he plays in a different way. He loves the things that other kids love, like music, videos, games and other things. But Avi behaves differently and learns differently because he has autism. This means that his brain works differently and it is hard for him to make friends and understand like other kids his age. 

The Steinhart siblings. Courtesy of Michelle Steinhart

Post Bar Mitzvah, Communal Role Grows For Boy With Disability

So, Jewish life after Bar Mitzvah… It is hard to believe that there is life after Bar Mitzvah!  Since our son Avi was diagnosed with autism as a toddler, we have been very goal-driven.  What did he need to achieve his goals?  How can we maximize his potential?  What will his role be in the Jewish community, if any?  Until quite recently, this was very much a blur.  Some days the answers seemed clear; other days, we had no idea.  

As I wrote in a blog a few months back, Avi’s Bar Mitzvah was more than we could have ever imagined. 

Avi puts on tefillin with his father. Courtesy of Michelle Steinhart

What A Bar Mitzvah Taught Us, and Our Son

Ever since our son was diagnosed with autism, at age two and a half, I'd been wondering about his bar mitzvah.  I come from a family of shulgoers who lead services, read from the Torah, and sing. My husband does, too. He and I have been teaching b’nei mitzvah for decades, and the question of our son’s bar mitzvah loomed large for 10 years.

Avi and his uncle, rejoicing at Avi's Bar Mitzvah. Photo courtesy Michelle Steinhart
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