The New Normal

Everyone is welcome in The New Normal, a Jewish blog about disability. We're a source of information, inspiration and a challenge to received wisdom.

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.

Raising A Child With Autism? Yes, There's An App For That

Raising a child with a disability is overwhelming. My daughter was three and a half when I finally received her Autism diagnosis, but she’d been in early intervention therapies since she was 8 months old. PT, OT, ST, ABA, AVB, etc.; we worked our way through the therapy alphabet.

Dani Gillman

Noah: The Dove, And How To Offer Assistance

The Hebrew Bible spans about 3,500 years.  In the first eleven chapters of
 Genesis, a few verses may chronicle a few centuries.

Rabbi Michael Levy

Reflections On Kelli Stapleton, A Mother Accused Of Attempted Murderer

Research has shown that mothers of children with autism have the highest rate of stress compared to parents of children with any other special needs. Recently, Kelli Stapleton, a mother of a 14-year-old daughter with autism, allegedly tried to kill herself and her child by using carbon monoxide poisoning. The police rescued them and Mrs. Stapleton is expected to be charged with attempted murder. The first question that comes to mind is: What exactly drove this woman to try and kill herself and her child? 

Frances Victory

A Mom With A Disability: Having Children Via Surrogate

“Tell me again,” Nadav says. My six-year-old lays curled into my side as I rest my back in bed. Well, I explain. Ima's back was broken, and the doctors said I couldn't carry you in my tummy for such a long time because you would be too heavy. So we took a little bit of Ima, a little bit of Abba, a little bit from Hashem and put it all in to Jenn.

Shana Schochet Lowell

Yes, Joe Biden Had A Sukkah, And Matan Kids Decorated It

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.

Dr. Jill Biden and the gang from Matan rejoicing at the vice-presidential sukkah. Photo courtesy Meredith Englander Polsky

After The Navy Yards Shooting: When Diagnosis Becomes Stigma

Last week, while sipping my coffee at a café, I overheard a troubling conversation. A small group of seemingly well-informed Brooklynites were discussing the recent shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington. One of the smartly dressed guys chimed in, “He’s schizo! That’s why he did it. Schizophrenics kill people all the time!” His friends laughed and agreed with his reasoning, and moved onto the more compelling question of what to eat for lunch.

Aaron Feinstein

Sukkot: The How And Why Of Happiness

Our liturgy refers to the holiday of Sukkot as "zman simchatenu" – "the season of our happiness." In the land of Israel, it marks the completion of the final harvest of the agricultural year.

A Spiritual Fresh Start

Rabbi Michael Levy

Take A Seat Courtside At The U.S. Open Wheelchair Tennis Competition

In many ways, it was just another awesome day at the U.S. Open.

Stephane Houdet of France prepares his serve. Howard Blas

Jonah: Not Using Our Gifts Is A Self-Imposed Disability

Why is the Book of Jonah the last biblical reading on Yom Kippur? True, it recounts how the nation of Nineveh repented, as we are called upon to do on the Day of Atonement. However, the liturgy could have instead featured King David, who admitted his shortcomings and constantly sought to improve himself.

Rabbi Michael Levy
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