inclusion

Watch This Beer Commercial. Now Do Inclusion. Just Do It.

I don’t really drink beer.  Occasionally, on a hot day, with friends, I’ll slowly nurse one drink all day long.  I don’t really watch commercials, either.  Occasionally, when flipping channels, I stop if something catches my eye.  And yesterday something did.

This Guinness commercial made me want to drink more beer and watch more commercials.

JFNA, Ruderman Foundation Launch Disability Employment Initiative

10/07/2013
Staff Writer
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The Jewish Federations of North America and the Ruderman Family Foundation will be placing young adults with disabilities in internships and fellowships at five federation offices in an effort to promote disability inclusion in the Jewish community.

5 Synagogue Inclusion How-Tos For The Holidays

Ready or not, the High Holy Days are upon us!

Recently, Jewish Learning Venture hosted a webinar on “High Holiday Inclusion” as part of outreach to clergy and lay leadership in the Philadelphia vicinity. We are sharing some tips that we hope your community can utilize, either this year or in the future, to make your synagogue truly a house of worship for all people.

Clergy and synagogue staff can easily and cheaply do a lot to make services a happy and calm experience for everyone. Fotolia

The Debate Continues: What Is The Purpose Of A School?

Recent posts on the New Normal about Jewish Day Schools and students with disabilities here and here are part of an important dialogue.

They ask the question “What is the purpose of an education and a school?” And the question must be asked, regardless of the nature of the school. Schools are not just places where the parents are “the customer;” nor are the students, or the donors.

Steven Eidelman

'My Life With Autism By Ben Sc., Bunk 20A'

Editor's Note: Ben Schorr is the son of Rabbi Rebecca Schorr, a regular blogger here at the New Normal who writes about Ben, his autism and the highs and challenges of family life on the spectrum. This summer, Ben wrote the below article for his camp newspaper, The Round Lake Times. He gave us permission to reprint it here on the blog.

Ben Schorr

Must-Read Response: At Jewish Schools, Inclusion Should Trump Local Rankings

Editor's Note: Yesterday, we highlighted a response to regular blogger Meredith Englander Polsky's piece about how she pulled her daughter out of Jewish day school. Click here for the original post and here for the comment; below is Meredith's response to the comment.

Thank you - I appreciate your response. I agree that this school (and probably Jewish Day Schools in general) face a real challenge as pressure grows to be as academically challenging as a Sidwell Friends or a Georgetown Prep. I would argue, though, that a day school's mission, then, needs to be clear. If that's the goal - to attract and retain families who would otherwise choose a Georgetown Prep - then make that explicit. Then parents know what they are choosing, and the school rejects students who will not rise to those academic challenges - probably (statistically speaking) 20 percent of currently enrolled students. (Clearly, this is not something I'm advocating.)

Meredith Englander Polsky

Must-Read Comment: Do We Ask Jewish Schools To Do The Impossible?

Editor's Note: An anonymous commentor wrote this in response to Meredith Englander Polsky's piece, about how even she, the founder of an organization that fights for the right to a Jewish education for every child, had to pull her own daughter out of Jewish day school. Tomorrow, we'll post her answer to this comment.

As a parent with children in the Jewish day school Meredith is referring to, CESJDS, we have had a very positive experience, even though our kids are also not round pegs going into round holes either. Each parent knows their own child best and I have no doubt about that the frustrations many have expressed here are real.

A complicated question: Do Jewish communal values come into conflict at day schools? Fotolia

Looking For An Inclusive School Or Shul? Check For The Rosh Pina Certification!

In a small community in Pittsburgh, starting in 1910, there was a shift in mindset.  The Pittsburgh Blind Association started to teach people with visual impairment how to make brooms, an item found in every home, but rarely given much thought.  That year, in Pittsburgh, they thought a lot about brooms and about who would be the best person for the job of broom maker.

Think about what we can do, not what we can't. Fotolia

Sometimes You Just Can't Make It Work

Thirteen years ago Temple Beth-El in Somerset County, New Jersey, recognized the need for a special education expert in the religious school and hired me to help build and run a program to meet the needs of children who were not experiencing success in traditional classes. We have developed a multi-layered program with various options and we work to meet every student’s needs. In addition, we strive to ensure that our inclusive practices extend to the synagogue at large. While we have experienced growing pains, especially in our early years, it has been rare for us to be entirely unable meet a family’s needs. The story shared below is only the third time in my tenure that we have had such an experience.

Lisa Friedman

Two Girls -- One Verbal, One Not -- Share Smiles At Summer Camp

Editor’s Note: In this piece, Matan co-founder Meredith Polsky sings the praises of the inclusive Jewish summer camp where she works – and sends her children – during the summer. A follow-up from a camp administrator will describe the various elements that must be in place to create such a program: culture, funding and a lot of hard work. Stay tuned.

During the summer, I have the great privilege of working at one of the first inclusive Jewish summer camps in the country. The Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington has been a model of inclusion for over thirty years. Every child is welcome, no matter what the disability. We have campers in wheelchairs, campers with feeding tubes, campers with Down Syndrome and Autism and Rett Syndrome, just to name a few.

Campers cuddle at an inclusive Washington, D.C.-area day camp. Photo courtesy Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington
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