Editor's Note: On July 5, the New Normal published Part I of this piece, which exhorts people with disabilities to take ownership of their High Holiday experience by discussing necessary accommodations in advance with their rabbi and synagogue staff. In Part II, Rabbi Michael Levy suggests specific questions people with disabilities might find useful to ask in the days leading up to Rosh Hashannah, which starts September 4.
An Important Turning Point
My parents, may they rest in peace, once did all my High Holiday planning. When I began exploring other synagogues, it became my rightful responsibility to arrange for Braille prayer books wherever I worshipped. This was, of course, essential when it was I who was leading the services. We must each consider our disability and plan accordingly.
The Torah reading for Shabbat July 6, Matot Ma-asei, includes a travel section (Numbers 1, 1-38.) It recounts the 42 places which the Israelites visited during their 40-year sojourn in the wilderness before entering the land of Israel.
The text of my reading material last week on the eve of Rosh HaShanah was about people making errors. The subtext: some errors are never forgotten, never wiped clean, stain a person’s reputation forever.
There was undoubtedly more texting in shul this Rosh Hashanah than in past years. In most liberal congregations, texting was likely done as discreetly as possible, often with a cellphone hidden low in one's lap. In some congregations it might have been more overtly outside in the lobby or perhaps outside the synagogue building.
Just a few more days….Can you begin to picture it? We will all gather together, in anticipation of the New Year, and the new beginnings that come with it. The melodies we wait for all year will be surrounding us. Our prayers and supplications will rise towards the heavens and we will pray “Sh’ma Koleinu” - that God will hear our voices. The Shofar will wake us from our physical and spiritual slumber. The sweet apples and honey will delight taste buds of all ages.