Posted: Mon, 08/19/2013 - 13:05 | The New Normal

The 2009 film, “Adam,” turns its twenty-nine-year-old hero, a man with Asperger Syndrome, into a Manic Pixie Dream Girl:

“The Manic Pixie Dream Girl is there to give new meaning to the male hero's life. She's stunningly attractive, high on life, full of wacky quirks and idiosyncrasies (generally including childlike playfulness and a tendency towards petty crime), often with a touch of wild hair dye. She's inexplicably obsessed with our stuffed-shirt hero, on whom she will focus her kuh-razy (sic) antics until he learns to live freely and love madly.”

Posted: Fri, 08/16/2013 - 09:05 | The New Normal

A passage from this week's Torah portion, Ki Taytzay, calls for honest measures in business:

"You must not keep in your pouch two different weights, one large and one small. (Similarly,) you must not keep in your house two different measures-one large and one small. You must have a full honest weight and a full honest measure. If you do, you will long endure on the land that the Lord our God has given you."

Posted: Thu, 08/15/2013 - 09:20 | The New Normal

I came to the Tikvah Program at Camp Ramah in New England in 1997 and was a camper in the Amitzim (the brave ones) division of the Tikvah program for campers with disabilities for about five years. Coming to Ramah was mostly my parents' idea. We were looking for a Jewish camp mostly, and that was basically it.

Posted: Wed, 08/14/2013 - 13:49 | The New Normal

Sundays have become special days in our family. Not because of religious school, or because of any particular family activity. Sunday is the day that Ben’s friends come over, per the schedule established by a program coordinator after due consultation with all the families involved.

You see, Ben is someone else’s mitzvah project.

Posted: Wed, 08/14/2013 - 08:24 | The New Normal

Larry had a problem. 

It was the winter of 2004 and he’d dreamed of becoming a Jew for years.  Following many months of formal study he was ready to go before the beit din, the group of rabbis who would hear his journey and proclaim him ready for the final conversion ritual. He did meet with these rabbis; they were touched by his sincerity and dedication to the Jewish people.

Larry’s problem was that he was paralyzed from the waist down.

Posted: Tue, 08/13/2013 - 10:23 | The New Normal

We often ask ourselves what would happen if our leaders were skilled at including people with disabilities and their families as full participants in the lives of their communities?