When most people think of the New Jersey YM-YWHA Camps they likely think of their specialty summer programs designed to develop skills in sports and other areas. After all, former Yankee Ron Blomberg, NBA basketball coach Herb Brown, and Olympic swimmer Lenny Krayzelburg teach at their camps. But this year, in addition to baseball, basketball, swimming, soccer, tennis, ceramics, painting, jewelry making, astronomy and cinematography the NJY camp also included a first-rate experience in inclusion of campers with disabilities.
As we start the New Year, it’s important to look back on what was accomplished for inclusion of Jews with disabilities this past year. We planted the seeds for future progress. Most of the work focused on “setting the table” for inclusion: raising awareness, creating critical policies and standards, and developing and conducting training for professionals. Hopefully, 2014 will be the year of implementation. Meanwhile, here are the top plays and players of 2013.
The middle book of the Torah is called Exodus in English and Shemot (Names) in Hebrew. Names play a crucial role in Torah language and thought. When God gives Adam responsibility for keeping the earth safe, Adam’s first responsibility is to name the creatures of the world, and in that way, connect with them. Know their names and not their skills.
In this week’s Torah portion, Vayehi, Jacob speaks to each of his children, honestly and directly. Jacob’s blessings look at the events of his son’s pasts, and his evaluation of their individual futures. This Torah portion began the tradition of Ethical Wills. Ethical Wills focus on the legacy of values we leave to our children and not a legacy of material goods.