Athlete and filmmaker Pascale Bercovitch made a somewhat unusual entrance when she delivered her speech at last week’s ADVANCE conference, a gathering for Jewish philanthropists interested in disability programs and services.
Because she has no legs, Bercovitch, 45, wheeled herself to the front of the room, in an event space in Soho. But because her arms and abdominal muscles are stronger than those of most people who do have legs, from her wheelchair she easily hoisted herself onto a tall chair, where she wriggled a few times to settle herself comfortably, grinning at her audience the entire time.
Editor’s Note: This past school year, Alon and Gida, students in the Ben Yehuda School for children with special needs and Stav and Noam, students in the Tali Bet Chinuch School, were selected by their teachers to write about their experiences in LOTEM, an organization in Israel that offers hikes and educational nature activities to people with disabilities. Alon, Goda, Stav and Noam’s program brings together children with disabilities and those from a regular education class. They also wrote as a group about their experience. One of the students from the regular education class wrote while the other children dictated. Then Alisa Bodner, who works with both LOTEM and its partner, The Jewish National Fund, translated the piece into English and indicated which student made individual remarks.
Congratulations to The Jewish Week for launching “The New Normal,” your new disability blog! The title strikes a perfect balance between what was and the change we are creating. Your welcome initiative is part of an important shift in the dialogue around people with disabilities in Jewish life.