Posted: Thu, 01/29/2015 - 20:16 | Posted by: Shelly Christensen | The New Normal

Ever gone on a long car trip with your children when one of them breaks the tedium of the road by piping up, “Are we there yet?”

The adorableness of this tyke wears off after they have asked the question three or four times. Your first response, “No honey bug, we’re not,” quickly morphs to a teeth clenching “No!” before you realize that little ones can’t read road maps or the GPS, and really, they are bored, tired of being in the car and maybe a little excited about getting to the destination.

Since February 2009, the first time the Jewish Special Education International Consortium members planned the first Jewish Disability Awareness Month, an increasing number of Jewish organizations and communities have hit the road, raising awareness about the way Jews with disabilities and those who love them have been practically invisible in Jewish life.

Posted: Tue, 01/27/2015 - 12:45 | Posted by: Dean Asofsky | The New Normal
Max and Dean Asofsky celebrating Max's success. Courtesy of Kulanu
Max and Dean Asofsky celebrating Max's success. Courtesy of Kulanu

The events of my son’s Bar Mitzvah day don't begin to tell the story of how Max arrived at this moment.  Nor do they tell the story of the special connection that he, and we, have developed with the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue congregation, and the gratitude we feel toward this place. 

Same as many young adult Jews, I hadn't felt the urgency to choose a synagogue until we knew that we were going to be parents. But once we did know, I diligently did the full tour of upper Manhattan's Reform synagogues and settled on Stephen Wise. 

Max was born on Erev Rosh Hashanah. Having arrived over five weeks premature, Max spent the first nine days of his life down at Roosevelt Hospital before we could bring him home. 

Posted: Mon, 01/26/2015 - 13:55 | Posted by: The Ruderman Family Foundation | The New Normal

The Ruderman Family Foundation (RFF) announced today that it will award the second annual Morton E. Ruderman Award in Inclusion to Ari Ne’eman, President of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and Member of the President’s National Council on Disability. The $100,000 award recognizes an individual who has made an extraordinary contribution to the inclusion of people with disabilities in the Jewish world and the greater public and is based on past achievements and the potential for future contributions to the field.

Posted: Sat, 01/24/2015 - 17:26 | Posted by: Rabbi Michael Levy | The New Normal

Each Shabbat from January 10 through January 31, 2015, the Torah portions recited in synagogues recount how God liberated the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. For those who are oppressed, Jews and non-Jews alike, the Exodus recalls the determination of slaves to be free and the compassion of God, the Liberator.

Belief-The First Step Towards Liberation

Before the Exodus, no slave had ever escaped from Egypt. Many Israelite slaves, even as redemption neared, succumbed to despair. An important first step towards liberation is realizing that God is not limited by what we humans may consider "the impossible."

Posted: Thu, 01/22/2015 - 07:44 | Posted by: Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer | The New Normal

At the New Normal, we know that creating a more inclusive Jewish community is a year-round effort, but we also recognize that Jewish Disability Awareness Month (JDAM) in February is a chance to come together as a national community to raise disability awareness and support inclusion efforts. JDAM is a time when we can focus our attention on providing meaningful inclusion and full participation of people with disabilities and their families in Jewish community.

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