Posted: Wed, 07/09/2014 - 16:56 | Posted by: Efrem Epstein | The New Normal

Much ado was made last November, when the rare overlapping of Thanksgiving and Channukah captured the fascination of the Jewish (and much of the secular) world.    Some of us soaked up every ounce of the hype, while others found it overwhelming but when it was over a certain remorse was felt over the fact that it would be 57 years before the two holidays would overlap again (and thousands of years before the two days would overlap in their entirety).

Far less heralded or noticed than Thanksgivukkah has been the quirk in the Jewish calendar that will make this Sabbath (July 12) a "last time for a generation" occurrence.   In most years, Parshat Pinchas falls during the three weeks leading up to the 9th of Av which means that the assigned Haftarah is superseded for a special seasonal reading.

Posted: Fri, 07/04/2014 - 07:54 | Posted by: Michelle Steinhart | The New Normal
Avi puts on tefillin with his father. Courtesy of Michelle Steinhart

So, Jewish life after Bar Mitzvah… It is hard to believe that there is life after Bar Mitzvah!  Since our son Avi was diagnosed with autism as a toddler, we have been very goal-driven.  What did he need to achieve his goals?  How can we maximize his potential?  What will his role be in the Jewish community, if any?  Until quite recently, this was very much a blur.  Some days the answers seemed clear; other days, we had no idea.  

As I wrote in a blog a few months back, Avi’s Bar Mitzvah was more than we could have ever imagined. 

Posted: Wed, 07/02/2014 - 06:59 | Posted by: Rabbi Ilana Garber | The New Normal

In our world of parenting a child with special needs, all you have to do is say “Holland” and everyone knows you are dealing with challenging days and lost dreams. As Emily Perl Kingsley expressed in her famous poem, having a child with special needs is like planning a trip to Italy only to land in Holland. There is a new language, new places to visit and new people to meet. Everything is different, but that does not mean it’s bad.

It has taken me a long time to be able to write that — and truly mean it. And while it is still painful to realize we are in "Holland," having a 3-year-old son with Fragile X Syndrome has inspired me to be a better mother and to become an advocate for his needs and the needs of other children and adults with this genetic disorder.

Posted: Sun, 06/29/2014 - 18:51 | Posted by: Meredith Englander Polsky | The New Normal
Meredith Polsky

Just over a year ago I wrote on this blog about my daughter, Lucy, who was leaving our local Jewish community day school after first grade. I have been planning this “one year later” blog post for quite some time – and yet, when I go to put pen to paper, I don’t know where to begin.

So I’ll start with this: Lucy is doing great. She adjusted quickly and easily to public school. She is happy and confident and more than a few adults who know her have commented that “she is a different kid”. 

Posted: Tue, 06/24/2014 - 18:47 | Posted by: Rebecca Modell | The New Normal
Working on a new product. Courtesy of Shusterman Connection Points

Some 70 talented innovators in their 20s and 30s from around the world ran a very different kind of marathon in Israel, as they competed to invent prototypes of tools for people with disabilities using cutting-edge digital and 3D-printing technology.