By this point, there's been quite a bit of buzz in the Jewish community about the fact that Vice-President Joe Biden not only celebrated Sukkot, but did so in a sukkah built on the grounds of his residence at Number One Observatory Circle.
And while this is amazing, there is more to the story, as there is more to a sukkah than its walls and roof. Hint: It's all about the decorations.
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.
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.
Hebrew school teachers from across the country are gathered in Manhattan today to learn how to better serve students with disabilities at the second Institute held by Matan, the Jewish organization that helps Hebrew Schools include students with disabilities.
In 19 days, my daughter will complete her last year of Jewish day school. I had many visions in my mind for this moment: Seeing her in a cap and gown with friends she’s known since kindergarten; finding the picture of her eating ice cream with a little boy in first grade and placing it next to their prom picture; feeling pride that although we made sacrifices, my husband and I provided a solid Jewish education to our child.
And some of those visions may have become reality, if not for the fact that Lucy will turn seven just before her last day at Jewish day school. She is completing first grade, not 12th.
Two of my children attend our local Jewish day school, and we carpool with a family who also has two kids at the school. Spending about an hour in the car together each day, we have become a tight-knit group and the kids (two first graders, a second grader and a third grader) have coined the phrase “carpool family” when referring to one another. As such, it has become a safe place to get ready for the school day, ask questions, discuss a wide variety of topics, get silly and unwind. My co-“carpool mom” and I share similar values and expectations, which is to say we place a high value on safety in the car, respect for differences among people and the tone of the language we use in carpool and at home.