Editor's Note: When Paula Fox first wrote for the New Normal, her tale of learning to read Torah only to struggle to reach the reading table inspired us to create the Bima Project. The idea was that we would help an interested synagogue create a more fully accessible bima that included an adjustable table. Paula and the folks in her shul moved rapidly toward this goal on their own and we are now thrilled to share their creative solution.
I learned to read Torah a year ago and now have read three times at Adath Jesurun Congregation in Minnetonka, Minnesota. As a wheelchair user, I was sitting too low to see the Torah on the regular Torah reading table.
Editor's Note: With this essay, New Normal contributor Paula Fox made us realize that a ramp to the bima is a wonderful thing, but not enough. The bima itself can and should be made more accessible: to people with disabilities, to children, to the short, to the tall. With the publication of Paula's post, we are launching the New Normal's Bima Project, which will aim to work with a synagogue to create and install such a bima. We look forward to sharing the Project's progress with you and of course invite your questions, suggestions and thoughts.
Until recently, I never thought of myself as a Torah reader.
My interest in disability issues is twofold: I have used a wheelchair since sustaining a spinal cord injury in 1975, and I was a school psychologist for over 30 years, working with children with a variety of disabilities. On learning about “Spread the Word to End the Word,” I had a mixed reaction. While I agree that it is important to reduce the stigma and name-calling associated with many disabilities, I don’t agree with focusing on this one particular label.