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Posted: Mon, 02/16/2015 - 08:28 | Political Insider

Prime Minister Netanyahu's goal in coming to Washington next month is not to toughen the American bargaining position but to undercut it entirely. Barack Obama's has said “no deal is better than a bad deal” when it comes to nuclear negotiations with Iran,  but Bibi made clear this week that his position is “no deal is better than any deal.”

Posted: Sat, 02/14/2015 - 16:22 | Political Insider

Benjamin Netanyahu's secret deal with Republican leaders to address Congress next month to lobby against the policies of President Barack Obama has stirred up anger in the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and could threaten their support for Israel.

Many African-American lawmakers see the controversy in "purely racial terms," said a pro-Israel source close to the CBC.

Netanyahu, in their view, has made an alliance with the Republican leadership to defy and humiliate their president.

Posted: Sat, 02/14/2015 - 14:12 | 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 | The New Normal

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.

Posted: Thu, 02/12/2015 - 18:23 | The New Normal

On a recent visit to a Pikud HaOref, Home Front Command base in Ramle, 14 miles southeast of Tel Aviv, a soldier tells me a very animated story about his role in Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s military operation in Gaza: “My job was to copy the papers for our soldiers to drop from planes over Gaza this summer!” The soldier, in uniform with his bright orange beret on his shoulder, happens to have Down Syndrome. 

He is very excited about his job in the base print shop. Another soldier with a visible disability proudly recounts the visit to the base the previous day by IDF Chief of Staff, Benny Ganz.  “We saluted him and gave him a present — olive oil that we made on the base!” 

Twenty five other soldiers with disabilities perform similarly important jobs each day on the base. If Tiran Attia and other visionaries have their way, Tzahal, or the IDF (Israel Defense Forces), may become a “game changer” in Israel for inclusion and for shaping attitudes about people with disabilities.

Posted: Thu, 02/12/2015 - 12:10 | Well Versed