Posted: Mon, 06/16/2014 - 07:08 | The New Normal

A Spanish municipality launched a project which aims to make one of the country’s largest Jewish cemeteries accessible to disabled people.

Work on the accessibility project began Wednesday at the Jewish cemetery of Lucena in the autonomous province of Cordoba in Spain’s south, Europa Press reported.The project, which was first announced earlier this year by Lucena officials at a tourism fair in Madrid, “aims to guarantee mobility to anyone all over the area of the Jewish Necropolis of Lucena,” the city said in a statement.

Posted: Sat, 06/14/2014 - 15:20 | The New Normal

Dear Dad:

We are both deaf and we both know no limits.  It is the greatest gift you have given me as my father.  As a young child, I watched you coach a deaf water polo team and a deaf basketball team, collaborate with the early stage technology institutions to help bring the internet and computers to the deaf community, raise funds for the nation’s deaf youth, and co-found the nation’s first and only deaf owned manufacturer of assistive technology products for the deaf and hard of hearing with Mom.

Posted: Thu, 06/12/2014 - 07:18 | The New Normal

Editor's Note: In honor of Father's day, Rabbi Michael Levy shares this loving tribute to his father. Click here to read Part 1, which ends with a doctor's discovery of a spot on his father's lung.

My parents tried to cover up this health crisis like all the medical problems of the past.  This was especially so because my wife Chavi and I were expecting.

In September, all four of our parents helped with our "big Sunday." We moved and arranged furniture from morning until evening.  The file cabinet made its way from the "second bedroom" into ours. A bed disappeared downstairs into the storage area. 

A big empty space appeared along one wall of the second bedroom, waiting for a crib. I didn't see my mother's tears when my mother-in-law caught her off guard with the question "How's Aaron?"

I learned about the spot on Dad’s lung only as they were preparing him for the operation. The bicycle ride of so many years ago came to mind. The collision had happened. 

Posted: Thu, 06/12/2014 - 07:07 | The New Normal

Editor's Note: In honor of Father's day, Rabbi Michael Levy shares his moving tribute to his father. Part two will be posted on Sunday.

"Look, a two-headed bike!" said a kid passing by. This confirmed for me that Dad and I, on our tandem bicycle, were invincible.

Riding on the two-seated bicycle with Dad, I didn't think about being blind. I did what everybody else did on the back seat of a tandem, no steering, just pedaling.

Doing what everybody else did. That’s the kind of childhood my parents gave me. If you feel included and valued by your family, then no future obstacles in your path will deter you.

Posted: Wed, 06/11/2014 - 14:54 | The New Normal

My eight-year-old daughter has a clear vision of her life as an adult: she’s going to be a singer-songwriter and live part of the year in Paris, where she will own a boutique selling the accessories that she designs. She said that I could have a job there, putting the merchandise carefully into soft paper bags lined with tissue, if I promise to be very careful.

She’s a highly creative, energetic kid with a natural sense of rhythm, pitch and fashion, and my husband and I encourage all of her dreams, knowing that if she hits a rough patch breaking into the music or fashion industry, we can encourage education or other career choices that allow her to use her gifts.

As for her mom, I just had my forty-third birthday and enjoyed a beautiful, laidback day with family and friends, a hike with our yellow lab on a new trail and dinner on the porch of a neighborhood BYOB restaurant. I am grateful for exactly where I am in my life, and do my best to stay present, but had a flash, just for a moment, that when (God willing) I turn fifty-three, my daughter will be eighteen and ready to go off to college, a gap year or a waitressing job and apartment with friends; our two-year-old lab will probably not be able to endure a two-hour hike on steep trails and my eleven-year-old son, who has autism and intellectual disabilities, will be twenty-one, at the end of his tenure in the school system, also ready to transition to what’s next for him.

Posted: Wed, 06/11/2014 - 07:08 | The New Normal

As the end of the school year approaches us, here are some tips for parents of children with autism (or any child who needs support with transitions) when trying to support their son or daughter move from school to summer.

1. Preview - Talk to your kids beforehand about what changes they can expect. Show them pictures of new places and people, like camp counselors. Visit any new locations with your child ahead of time so nothing is a surprise. Skype with friends and family to see where you'll be staying when you go on summertime visits. Check out the websites of summer camp facilities, hotels, attractions or city going to visit. Tour summer day or sleep away camp grounds ahead of time. If that's not possible, you may want to contact places to see if they have any DVDs that depict their facilities.