synagogues

Autism, A Roll Of Tape And Ways To Make Classroom Inclusion Real

Editor's Note: This blog originally appeared in e-Jewish philanthropy.

In my work as a coach and trainer at Ramapo for Children I partner with hundreds of schools, community organizations, agencies and synagogues to create inclusive environments for the broadest range of children to become successful.

UJA-Federation Sharefest Focuses On Inclusion Of People With Disabilities

On Monday, October 19, 2015, UJA-Federation of New York hosted a day of learning for synagogue professionals and lay leaders to discuss, share and learn from experts and each other on how to make synagogues more open and welcoming to people with disabilities. The workshop was an opportunity to build skills and to learn about new innovative models to make synagogues more accessible and inclusive to all. The program included presentations from professionals from RespectAbility USA, The Jewish Inclusion Project, the URJ and Ramapo for Children, learning from a compelling self-advocate working in a synagogue community, as well as time for round-table discussions and brainstorming sessions with synagogue professionals leaders and topic experts.

The Paradox Of Communal Prayer

09/23/2015 - 20:00
Special To The Week

We are in the season of the High Holy Days, when many Jews will be spending significant time in the synagogue. As an architect, I have had a number of opportunities to design synagogues, forcing me to think about the spatial and phenomenological aspects of communal prayer. [Jewish Week staff writer Steve Lipman addressed some of these issues in a Sept. 11 article, “The Shape Of Worship To Come.”]

Ahead Of Its Time: One Synagogue's Approach To Inclusion

Editor's Note: In the blog below, Rabbi Daniel Grossman describes the way that his congregation made accessible choices 25 years ago. Many people are surprised to learn that religious institutions are not required to be ADA compliant.

As I think back 25 years ago to the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act, I want to share with you how the passage of the ADA changed my experience of synagogue life. I had just finished my first year at Adath Israel in Trenton, New Jersey when the ADA became a reality. I had worked since Rabbinical School with issues of the deaf, mobility, accessibility and inclusion and now felt able to take serious steps at the synagogue. 

The Congregation had agreed from the beginning of my employment that our new building in Lawrenceville, New Jersey would be totally different from the original building built in 1923.

The Adath Israel synagogue in Mercer County, N.J. has made accessibility a key priority. Via adathisraelnj.org

Synagogues In NYC Too Big To Lose Dues

Is New York too big for the increasingly popular voluntary dues model? Local congregations weigh in.

04/07/2015 - 20:00
Staff Writer

At the beginning of January, board members of Temple Beth Abraham, a Reform synagogue in Tarrytown, met in the president’s living room to discuss a hot topic these days: synagogue dues.

Beth Abraham Rabbi David Holtz and synagogue president Herb Baer look at plans for new Tarrytown building.  Michael Datikash/JW

Hearing Loss And Communication: It's Not Just Sign Language

Oral deafness may be the most misunderstood of disabilities even though, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America, one in ten people in our country fit this description: that is, they have some degree of hearing loss and do not speak sign language. Almost everyone knows someone who is oral deaf.

Yet, when I say that I am an Open Captioner to people who are deaf or hard of hearing, once the word “deaf” is uttered, most people imagine or mimic a person talking with their hands via American Sign Language (ASL). This familiar image of a deaf person is one of many barriers that prevent a large population of deaf people from gaining access to communication that hearing people take for granted.

Randi C. Friedman

Jewish Inclusion Made Easy and Inexpensive! Part 2

Editor’s Note: This article appeared in the Fall, 2014 issue of  The Journal of Jewish Communal Service, and is disseminated with the permission of its publisher, JPRO Network.  Subscriptions at JPRO.org. We are sharing this primer in three parts; to see part one click here.

Do a Self-Assessment on Inclusion. This is the first step in developing a comprehensive approach to serving people with disabilities. Here are some key questions to ask about your organization, inspired by material developed by the JE & ZB Butler and Ruderman Family Foundations.

  • Does your organization have policies and/or programs that support meaningful inclusion of people with disabilities at all levels? Are they prominent on your website and materials?
  • Does it have a disability advisory committee/inclusion committee, and if so, are Jews with disabilities themselves and their family members on the committee?
  • Will all people with any kind of disability be welcomed to participate? If not, why not? If so, how do you plan to identify, reach, and welcome them?
  • Do you serve Jews with disabilities in an inclusive way (welcoming them inside the full community), or are they forced into segregated “special needs programs” that are inherently unequal?
  • Has someone who uses a wheelchair personally checked the physical accessibility of your offices and programs for people who use wheelchairs?
  • Has a person who is blind and who uses adaptive computer technology checked your website and facilities for accessibility?
  • Do the videos you use have captions? Do you have a way to communicate with people who are deaf or use other adaptive supports?
  • Do you employ individuals who have disabilities? If so, what are their jobs? Do they receive the same compensation and benefits as all other employees in like positions?
  • How do you educate your staff, board of directors, trustees, and other key people about serving and partnering with people with disabilities?

#JDAM15

Running To, Not From, A Synagogue: One Family's Connection at Stephen Wise

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. 

Max and Dean Asofsky celebrating Max's success. Courtesy of Kulanu

Inclusive Congregations: Justice, Not Charity

When our son was a newborn, another mom of a child with Down syndrome suggested that we see “Praying with Lior.” Deeply moved by the movie, I turned to my husband and told him that we needed to find a synagogue so that our Julian would have a faith community that knows, loves and supports him. We were not interested in “tolerance” or even “acceptance.” We wanted to be part of a congregation that celebrated difference and embraced members with disabilities as part of its fabric. 

Mikveh Needs To Be A Safe Place

10/19/2014 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

As another case of alleged rabbinic impropriety emerges, I am most concerned with how the community moves forward. Our focus at this point in time should not be on the individual; rather we should focus on collective responsibility. What could we have done? Where do we go from here?

Sharon Weiss-Greenberg
Syndicate content