Posted: Fri, 08/29/2014 - 11:24 | Posted by: Rabbi Michael Levy | The New Normal
Rabbi Michael Levy

On Tuesday night, August 26, the "spiritual pre-season," leading up to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, began. We celebrated the first day of Ellul, the Hebrew month during which Jews traditionally examine their behavior and contemplated self-improvement.

Posted: Sat, 08/23/2014 - 12:13 | Posted by: Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer | The New Normal

The New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities has mounted an "I Am Able"? campaign to document and celebrate the abilities of the individuals that the office serves. People with disabilities are encouraged to submit pictures and share accomplishments in their own words.

Posted: Sat, 08/23/2014 - 11:49 | Posted by: Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer | The New Normal
Prof. Hefziba Lifshitz and Students. Courtesy of David Garb

Editor's Note: In July, the Ruderman Family Foundation awarded five prizes to agencies across the world that are making the Jewish community into a more inclusive one. The New Normal will profile each of these amazing agencies over the next month. Click here to read previous profiles.

Bar-Ilan University's Empowerment ("Otzmot") Program is among five international winners (and the only Israeli winner) of the third annual Ruderman Prize in Inclusion, honoring organizations worldwide that operate innovative programs and provide services that foster the full inclusion of people with disabilities in their local Jewish community.

Posted: Thu, 08/21/2014 - 20:59 | Posted by: Rabbi Dov Linzer | The New Normal
Rabbi Dov Linzer

I recently had the opportunity to deliver a shiur on the topic of inclusion of people with disabilities. As a model for a Torah approach to this issue, I looked at the mitzvot relating to the ger. One of those mitzvot occurs in Parshat Eikev, the mitzvah to love the "ger," or stranger:

Love you therefore the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt (Devarim, 10:19).

Posted: Wed, 08/20/2014 - 08:09 | Posted by: Ellen Seidman | The New Normal
Fireman Max with his new friend June. Courtesy of Ellen Seidman

Editor's Note: This blog originally appeared on Ellen Seidman's blog: Love That Max: Special Needs Blog

Last Wednesday, I headed to family camp with Max for five days. I figured we'd have fun; I had no idea how meaningful our time there would be. It was full of firsts for Max—and the discovery of a whole other kind of holy land.

As a a teen, I was a counselor at two Camp Ramahs in New York and loved it. After I found out that the Ramah in the Poconos had a five-day Tikvah Family Camp for kids with developmental disorders and social learning disorders, I signed us up. (The Ramah Tikvah Network offers family, day and overnight camps at nine locations.)