Posted: Thu, 09/11/2014 - 07:13 | Posted by: Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer | The New Normal

TIPTOE (The Inclusion Project: Through Our Eyes), a partnership between the Ruderman Family Foundation, the Jewish Foundation For Camp and the National Ramah Tikvah Network Of Programs For Campers With Disabilities, has just announced a disabilities inclusion-themed video contest. The contest is open to anyone who participated as a camper or college-aged staff member in any North American Jewish summer camp program in 2014.

Posted: Tue, 09/09/2014 - 13:36 | Posted by: Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer | The New Normal
The author cooking with her children. Courtesy of Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer

A couple of weeks ago, my family and I spent five amazing days at Tikvah Family Camp at Ramah in the Poconos, connecting with other families who have children with a range of special needs and enjoying camp life. During the mornings, children are paired with “Chavereem” who lead them in sports, art, swimming and other activities while parents get time to themselves. One of my highlights from this year’s camp was when I met up with my 11-year-old son, George, who has autism, and his lovely Chavera Davida at lunch. “George LOVED cooking!” Davida exclaimed. “He was so focused and into it. He did a great job.”

I smiled. George and I have been cooking together since he was four, when a cognitive-behavioral therapist recommended cooking as a way for us to engage in back and forth sharing and connecting. I thought she was crazy; at that time, George’s behavior was so hyper that he might only focus on a preferred activity for a minute at a time.

Posted: Tue, 09/02/2014 - 20:52 | Posted by: Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer | The New Normal
Courtesy of Jewish Vocational Services of Toronto

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 Elul, 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.