I grew up attending Temple BethEl in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Worship was a group activity. We recited the liturgy together, sometimes in response to the rabbi.
Communal worship binds Jews together. Parts of the liturgy, such as the Kedusha and Kaddish, may be recited only in a minyan, a gathering of ten adult Jews.
For some of us with disabilities, praying with a community is difficult. The synagogue may be inaccessible. Individuals who process verbal and written language differently from the “average congregant” might struggle to find and maintain their place in the prayerbook, keep pace with other worshippers, and switch between Hebrew and English.
The Ruderman Family Foundation announced today the five winners of the third annual Ruderman Prize in Inclusion. The Prize honors organizations worldwide who operate innovative programs and provide services that foster the full inclusion of people with disabilities in their local Jewish community.
Tuesday evening begins the holy days of Shavout, the moment of receiving Torah at Mount Sinai. Revelation at Sinai is the first, and largest, act of religious equality in history. Many other cultures and religions experience the divine in the same way they experience the world around them – as a hierarchy, a society divided by class or title. The Revelation at Mt. Sinai is open to all – regardless of status, gender, power, or lack of power. All the individuals at Sinai are equal.
We could celebrate Shavuot as we just celebrated Memorial Day: with ceremonies, a day off from work and a festive meal. Our tradition urges us to celebrate Shavuot in a more spiritual manner, by recreating the experience of standing at Mount Sinai to receive the Torah.
During the merry celebration of Purim this upcoming Saturday night and Sunday, children and even adults will wear masks and costumes. Masks echo the theme of concealment in the Purim story itself, which we will read in the Scroll of Esther.
After Moses anoints the Tent of Appointed Meeting and the Priests who will officiate there, God speaks to him:
Explain to the sons of Israel the ways of bringing offerings to God. There will be offerings of animals and grains and fruit. Animals for sacrifice shall be male and without blemish. These animals shall be killed and washed and burned so each shall smoke on the altar in the Tent of Appointed Meeting. This will be for an ascent offering, an offering made by fire in expression of compliance to God and to make atonement before God.
New West Side building will rent five classrooms to non-denominational program for kids with language-based disabilities.
Amy Sara Clark
Story Includes Video:
When Ilana Ruskay-Kidd decided start a Jewish day school for children with disabilities in 2012, she expected to be challenged by fundraising and finding teachers well versed in both Judaism and special education. What she didn’t expect was how hard it would be to find a location.
Today, when Prime Minister Netanyahu gave a vital speech in front of 14,000 people at AIPAC on the threat of Iran and the need for a successful lasting and secure peace, there was no sign language interpreter or live captioning offered. There were more than 40 massive screens around the room showing the speech – yet not one of them enabled someone with a hearing impairment to follow the program.
A few weeks ago I attended our synagogue’s Kabbalat Shabbat service. This once-a-month service has an earlier start time than our traditional service and is followed by a congregational potluck dinner. The shorter service is ideal for many: Our youngest children who aren’t ready to be out past their bedtimes; teens who want to go out with friends later in the evening and adult members who don’t want to be out past their bedtimes after a full week of work. Our Kabbalat Shabbat is also a wonderful fit for an adult member of our congregation with developmental disabilities.
When I first heard of Birthright I wanted to go. I had many friends and cousins who had gone, too, and were all so excited after the trip. So finally this winter I was able to go. I wanted to see my history and see where Judaism came from because it is me.