Posted: Sun, 03/01/2015 - 16:24 | Posted by: Orlee Krass | The New Normal
Purim Gragger. Courtesy of Matan

Editor's Note: Purim comes Wednesday evening and we are delighted to share resources from Matan to help children and teens acclimate to what can be a sensory-overwhelming holiday.

Posted: Sun, 02/22/2015 - 08:26 | Posted by: Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer | The New Normal
Yozma

The Nativ College Leadership Program is launching a new track on Nativ called “Yozma.” Yozma will be an inclusion track for college-bound Jewish young adults, aged 18-21, with mild cognitive and social challenges. 

Posted: Sat, 02/21/2015 - 07:36 | Posted by: Michelle Steinhart | The New Normal
The author's children. Courtesy of Michelle Steinhart

The concept of inclusion seems important to most people. On a gut level, most people would agree strongly that “it’s the right thing to do.”  With that said, are we ready to change our behavior to ensure inclusion can be a reality?

Posted: Sat, 02/14/2015 - 14:12 | Posted by: Rabbi Margot Stein | The New Normal

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

My son, a high functioning child with autism, did not speak until he was four and is only now, in 7th grade, learning to read independently. Yet he chanted from the Torah, recited the Sh’ma, helped lead the service, and delivered a D’var Torah that was unique in several important ways. He was thrilled, and so were we.

How can you make your child’s celebration equally memorable?

1). Know your child and make accommodations accordingly. Do not hesitate to ask your rabbi to work with you on this.  If your child is outgoing as our son is, and can handle a lot of guests, fine. If she is fearful of crowds or has performance anxiety, keep it intimate.

Posted: Sat, 02/14/2015 - 13:58 | Posted by: Frances Victory | The New Normal
Dr. Frances Victory

In honor of Jewish Disability Awareness Month (#JDAM15), I had the privilege of interviewing Rabbi Robert Levine, Rabbi Benjamin Spratt and Rabbi Leora Kaye from Congregation Rodeph Sholom in New York City. These three amazing religious leaders plus Mrs. Gina Levine and Dr. Nancy Crown have worked together to develop Shireinu, holiday worship services for families of individuals with special needs.

The Shireinu program was started in June 2008 when Dr. Nancy Crown mentioned to Rabbi Levine’s wife that she felt her daughter with special needs did not fit in at Rodeph Sholom and therefore could only attend services on the high holidays.

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