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Posted: Thu, 12/04/2014 - 07:18 | The New Normal

Adam Rogers knows what it’s like to face challenges in school or in interactions with friends. As a younger kid, he experienced anger management issues. Now, as a high school sophomore, Adam helps others overcome their own set of learning challenges through the B’Tzelem: Jewish Teen Learning Companions at five Cleveland area congregations.

“My role in B’Tzelem is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done,” says Adam, who helps an 8th grader at Kol Chadash in Solon, OH.

Posted: Tue, 11/25/2014 - 19:49 | The New Normal

Hashem works in interesting ways. In the middle 1990s, I had a really good psychotherapist who went for another job and I was broken up about it. Mom had her own health issues and it also bothered her that I lost a therapist we really trusted. I was depressed and Mom wanted to cheer me up.

It was Chanukah time and she was out shopping at the Roosevelt Mall in Northeast Philadelphia and there was a Radio Shack that was having a grand opening sale. They were selling radios and Walkmans and knowing my love for music, she thought, “This will cheer Phyllis up.”

Posted: Tue, 11/25/2014 - 19:08 | The New Normal

We have all heard the phrase, "It takes a village to raise a child.” Some attribute it to an African proverb, though there appears to be some controversy about that. The phrase itself has become shopworn, utilized by elected officials, pundits and others. 

Posted: Thu, 11/20/2014 - 15:24 | The New Normal

When I was little I thought that becoming a bar mitzvah was about learning to read the Torah and putting on tefillin. But as it gets closer I realize it is also about taking on some important adult responsibilities, like thinking of others. So in preparation for my upcoming bar mitzvah this spring I decided to "twin" with a child with disabilities from Beit Issie Shapiro in Ra’anana, Israel.

I know a lot about Beit Issie because my parents have been involved there since before I was born. It’s not only a school for children with developmental disabilities, but also a place where they teach therapists from all over the world new things.

Posted: Mon, 11/17/2014 - 15:21 | The New Normal

Editor's Note: This blog originally appeared at www.inclusioninnovations.com.

The second cohort of the Jewish Leadership Institute on Disabilities and Inclusion (JLIDI) convenes at the Pearlstone Center near Baltimore for four days of intense study this week. They will be treated to compelling and insightful presentations by our excellent faculty, bond with and learn from each other and have time to reflect on individual leadership challenges.

When I returned from the National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities (NLCDD) Leadership Institute, on which the JLIDI is based, in 2009, I was inspired by the concept of Person-Centered Thinking, in which all people have positive control over the lives they have chosen for themselves.

Posted: Mon, 11/17/2014 - 15:12 | The New Normal

I am filled with the overwhelming feeling of gratifying exhaustion from running Ramah New England’s second Tikvah Family Shabbaton.