Community

Eight Ways To Build A More Inclusive Community

It’s Chanukah, and we’re thinking in eights. Here are eight steps we all can take towards making a more inclusive community for people of all abilities all year long.

1. Use People-First Language: The words used to describe us have an impact on our lives. One important change that many of us can make is to shift how we talk about people with disabilities — doing so helps to shift our perspectives and see the whole person. Put the person before the disability. David is a child who has autism, not an autistic child. Click here for resources to help guide you in using people-first language.

Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer

Sukkot, A Festival For Inclusion

10/08/2014
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The Days of Awe may climax on Yom Kippur, but the evening shofar inaugurates a spirited and spiritual Oktoberfest unparalleled in the Jewish year. Immediately after breaking the fast, many started constructing sukkot, not only in backyards but also shoehorned with urban ingenuity into New York alleys and apartment terraces. We’re told that the days leading up to Sukkot are a time when Jewish people are preoccupied with mitzvot, preparing the sukkah, cooking meals, inviting guests, children scissoring and stringing decorations, buying lulavim and etrogim, and then the sweet peace of the holiday itself.

Having Gratitude, Community, And Tourette's

Someone asked me recently how I would feel if I didn’t have Tourette Syndrome, if suddenly one day I woke up and it was gone. I’m sure it’s a question that anyone with a disorder, or affliction or disability considers and struggles to honestly answer.  It’s become such a part of me, woven itself so intricately into the fabric of my life, that even at its worst, I cannot imagine living without it. It’s become a part of my identity.

I’ve had Tourette Syndrome for 24 years.  It’s waxed and waned, gone through the roller coaster of okay to really bad to good and back through again. 

Marisa Lenger

Post Bar Mitzvah, Communal Role Grows For Boy With Disability

So, Jewish life after Bar Mitzvah… It is hard to believe that there is life after Bar Mitzvah!  Since our son Avi was diagnosed with autism as a toddler, we have been very goal-driven.  What did he need to achieve his goals?  How can we maximize his potential?  What will his role be in the Jewish community, if any?  Until quite recently, this was very much a blur.  Some days the answers seemed clear; other days, we had no idea.  

As I wrote in a blog a few months back, Avi’s Bar Mitzvah was more than we could have ever imagined. 

Avi puts on tefillin with his father. Courtesy of Michelle Steinhart

Dr. Wendy Ross: CNN Hero Helping With Autism Inclusion

Dr. Wendy Ross, a developmental pediatrician in Philadelphia, founder of the nonprofit Autism Inclusion Resources (AIR) has recently been named a "CNN Hero."

As a doctor who regularly diagnosed children who have autism, Ross was heartbroken to hear stories of social isolation from the families whose children she was treating. Because many children with autism become overstimulated in loud, crowded or new environments, parents often opt to keep the family home rather than experience fun family outings, like going to a ball game. But Dr. Ross knew that isolation didn't serve her patients with autism well in the long run.

Dr. Wendy Ross

Rabbi’s Role: Speaking Out Or Maintaining Community?

03/05/2014
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Frequently, I hear congregants complain that their rabbis are not inspiring or that they never take clear stands on issues of importance. That's why the ongoing discussion about rabbinic independence that has erupted again at B'nai Jeshurun, covered very fairly by The Jewish Week (“B’nai Jeshurun Defections Fuel Debate,” Feb. 28), transcends any single congregation and any one subject. It is a contemporary case study about two issues facing the congregational world:

Rabbi Hayim Herring

Support Families, Not Orphanages, For Vulnerable Children

10/09/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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My grandma Sadie lived in the town of Droghobych in Ukraine until she was 13. Nearby, there is a dirt road through a forest leading to the mass graves where the town’s last Jewish population lies buried. It is barely marked — if you did not know to look for the large slabs of concrete between the trees, you would have a hard time finding it. As a human rights lawyer who has spent a lifetime documenting atrocities, I was not prepared for the effect of this visit a few months ago. I broke into tears.

Eric Rosenthal is founder and executive director of Disability Rights Inernational.

Jewish Child Care Model Poised For Growth Spurt

Westchester temple’s partnership with for-profit chain drawing working families into fold.

03/28/2013
Associate Editor

For more on Jewish early childhood education, see "Early Engagement Crucial for Unaffiliated Families."

When Brian Seely and his husband Tim Seely adopted their son Gabe, they agreed to give him a Jewish education.

Kehillah’s director, Nancy Bossov, with one of the program’s infants. courtesy of Temple Israel of New Rochelle.

Community Not Safer, But Better Prepared

On eve of 9/11 anniversary, talk of guns in synagogue as terror threat seen to be growing.

09/06/2011
Staff Writer

Ten years after the 9/11 attacks, the Jewish community is not any safer but is better prepared to deal with terrorist attacks, according to several Jewish leaders and law enforcement experts.

The Do’s And Don’ts Of Appealing To Boomers

02/01/2011
Special To The Jewish Week

By now it’s old news: Baby boomers are redefining aging, Jewish boomers are disengaging from community life, and the Jewish community is not well-prepared.

The salient question: Is the Jewish community ready to define our future by creating a just society that reflects Jewish values and respects the aging boomer population? Or will we simply allow the December 2010 Pew Research report, “Boomers Approach Age 65 Glumly,” to become a self-fulfilling prophecy?

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