The New Normal Blog

Posted: Wed, 10/26/2016 - 11:04 | Posted by: Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi | The New Normal
Students At Union Temple. Courtesy of Shelley Cohen

Since March of 2015, six New York area synagogues have been focused on tangibly weaving the inclusion of people with disabilities in the fabric of their communities. The UJA-Federation of New York, with funding from the Leo Oppenheimer & Flora Oppenheimer Haas Foundation, piloted The Synagogue Inclusion Project, a groundbreaking 18-month pilot program to create a replicable, sustainable approach to integrating members of our community with disabilities. The pilot synagogue cohort included synagogues large and small, Conservative and Reform, urban and suburban. What bound them together was a stated desire to be inclusive of people with disabilities, but an underlying doubt that they were having the desired impact.

Posted: Thu, 10/20/2016 - 08:04 | Posted by: Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer | The New Normal
At a recent TDF Autism-Friendly Production. Courtesy of TDF

If you’re a theater lover like me, it’s likely you remember the first play or musical you ever saw.

Mine was a community theater production of “The Princess and the Pea” that my grandmother took my sister and me to see (I was 4 and she was 6). I still can recall holding my grandmother’s hand when the theater lights went down and the magic of watching the actors bring the story to life. The Princess was funny! My grandmother was proud of how my sister and I sat still and watched. She, as well as my parents, took us to see live theater throughout  our childhood.

Posted: Tue, 10/18/2016 - 21:48 | Posted by: Rabbi Margot Stein | The New Normal
Rabbi Margot Stein and her family. Courtesy of Margot Stein

Editor's Note: Thanks to Jewish Learning Venture for sharing this important blog post.

I’m watching my 14-year-old son with autism get on the van that takes him to a special school, a place where they have known him for 8 years. A place where they have watched him grow from a behaviorally challenged first grader to a budding high schooler eager to participate in the life of the community. I’m thinking about the value of being known, of being seen for your strengths and weaknesses. Especially when it comes to education, how important it is that they know how to help my son learn.

If you have ever entertained the thought of sending your child to religious school without letting the principal or teacher know that there are learning issues, let me ask you to think twice about that before doing it. And maybe a third time.

Posted: Thu, 10/06/2016 - 16:34 | Posted by: Adina Golub | The New Normal
Tikvah Fall Family Shabbaton. Courtesy of Ramah

We are excited to share the announcement of for our upcoming fall Tikvah Family Shabbaton, at Camp Ramah in New England. The Tikvah Family Shabbaton is a unique weekend retreat where families who have children with disabilities come together as a community to celebrate Shabbat, have fun and meet other families with similar experiences to share ideas and resources.

Posted: Thu, 10/06/2016 - 14:18 | Posted by: Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer | The New Normal
 The author with her daughter and sister-in-law at her local Clinton campaign office. Courtesy of Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer

There is so much at stake for our country on November 8th—and for me, as a mom of a thirteen-year-old son with severe autism and intellectual disabilities, I will enter the voting booth knowing that the outcome of this election affects the policy that will be in place when my son transitions from the protection of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act that will last through age 21 to the time when he becomes an adult in need of housing, job coaching and ongoing therapy supports that are not mandated by a national law. In Pennsylvania, where we live, there is currently a waiting list of over 13,000 people with intellectual disabilities in our state who need supports. While we push our son to learn as many life skills as possible, it is also clear that he will need supports for his entire life. While my husband and I are pro-active about planning for our son’s future, we are also keenly aware that we need public policy that honors the dignity of and provides supports for people with disabilities in order for our son to have the meaningful life that we dream of for him.

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