A Conversation With David Brooks
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Posted: Fri, 09/18/2015 - 06:05 | The New Normal

Editor's Note: As the school year begins, we are delighted to bring you these tips. Follow "The New Normal" through the year for a variety of perspectives on inclusion and Jewish education.

As someone with a disability myself, and who also knows what it means to parent a child with multiple disabilities, I’ve become an advocate for my children on so many fronts. Jewish education and involvement is no different. When it comes to disability and inclusion issues, despite good intentions, many Jewish institutions don’t even know what they don’t know. So it is up to people with disabilities, and the people who love them, to educate and advocate for people with disabilities in Jewish life. This is especially true in the context of enabling children with disabilities to have full access to Jewish education.

Posted: Thu, 09/10/2015 - 16:58 | The New Normal

Happy New Year! Many children and adults with disabilities use iPad technology for learning, play and communication. The iPad is also a wonderful tool to help people of all abilities prepare for and participate in the High Holidays. For example, an iPad can be used in the following ways:

1. Drawing and photo apps can be used to create personalized new year cards to share or print.

2. Interactive greetings can created on an app like TinyTap and shared with those who have the app, or screenshots can be printed and sent.

Posted: Wed, 09/09/2015 - 13:58 | The New Normal

My company Actionplay is an inclusive group that relies on ensemble-based performance to build social communities that rise above the feeling of being excluded. We embody the notion that in difference there is great strength. The meaningful and supportive relationships that are formed in our rehearsal room are essential for those of us who don’t quite fit the norm.

Posted: Wed, 08/26/2015 - 09:14 | The New Normal

Today? I want what I can’t have.

I want Akiva to sleep late. Really late. So late, that I have to march into his room, check that he’s alive, and wake him up because hey, it’s 1 PM, and I’m your mother.

I want Akiva to brush his teeth, handle bathroom details, and get dressed. By himself. Without scratching me if I hit the wrong sensory buttons.

I want Akiva to pour his own juice and get his own breakfast, while I lie indolently in bed and answer questions from my room, as one might do with their young adult children.

Posted: Tue, 08/18/2015 - 06:13 | The New Normal

Editor's Note: In the blog below, Rabbi Daniel Grossman describes the way that his congregation made accessible choices 25 years ago. Many people are surprised to learn that religious institutions are not required to be ADA compliant.

As I think back 25 years ago to the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act, I want to share with you how the passage of the ADA changed my experience of synagogue life. I had just finished my first year at Adath Israel in Trenton, New Jersey when the ADA became a reality. I had worked since Rabbinical School with issues of the deaf, mobility, accessibility and inclusion and now felt able to take serious steps at the synagogue. 

The Congregation had agreed from the beginning of my employment that our new building in Lawrenceville, New Jersey would be totally different from the original building built in 1923.

Posted: Sun, 08/16/2015 - 06:02 | The New Normal

The Ruderman Family Foundation announced today the five winners of the fourth annual global Ruderman Prize in Inclusion competition. The Prize honors Jewish organizations who operate innovative programs and provide services that foster the full inclusion of people with disabilities in their local Jewish community. The winners: Yavne Institute (Montevideo, Uruguay), Jewish Family Service Association of Cleveland (Cleveland, United States), Kisharon’s Adult Employment Programme (London, United Kingdom), Room on the Bench (Brooklyn, United States) and Beit Hillel (Ra’anana, Israel). Each winner will receive $50,000 to continue their work and pursue new opportunities for inclusion in their local communities.More information about each prize winner is listed below.