Posted: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 14:43 | Posted by: | The New Normal

Editor's Note: This blog entry was submitted to us by a friend of "The New Normal" who wishes to remain anonymous.

This time of year is full of prayer and tears. We ask G-d to forgive us for our sins and to give us what we need in the year to come. G-d always answers us, although sometimes it is hard to see or hear.  At times “luck” is on our side and others it seems as though the world is falling apart.

Over the past few months G-d has given me personal tests that I would rather do without.  A divorce, needing to move, looking for a new job ... all are things that I would have buried myself under the covers to ignore.  But luckily, with the support of a good therapist, amazing parents and friends, I have been able to overcome my ostrich-like habits.

But there is one thing that remains.  There is one thing that breaks my heart on a daily basis.  It has me searching for answers and crying my heart out.  My life’s challenges have impacted greatly on my daughter.

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.