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.

Eric Rosenthal, Disability Rights Pioneer, Wins Charles Bronfman Prize

For the first time in its nine-year history, the Charles Bronfman Prize is going to a disability rights advocate, the award committee announced on June 3.

Eric Rosenthal visiting people with disabilities and documenting conditions in Romania. Photo courtesy Charles Bronfman Prize

Behind Autism, God: Parents Talk To Rabbis

As a doctoral candidate in developmental psychology doing research on Jewish parents of children with autism, I have found that many mothers and fathers interpret their child’s diagnosis in relation to God.

Frances Victory

How To Not Lose Your Lucy

Since I shared on this blog my family’s decision to withdraw our daughter Lucy from the local Jewish day school, I have been inundated with comments, Facebook posts, emails and phone calls. The majority of these have been parents sharing their own stories about why their child could not receive a Jewish education and reliving that heartbreak, whether it was last year or 20 years ago.

Meredith Englander Polsky

Jewish Week Editorial: Day Schools For All Children

About 15 years ago, Meredith Polsky co-founded Matan, a nonprofit that advocates for the right of Jewish students with disabilities to receive a Jewish education.

Fotolia

When A Child Has Autism, 'Normal' Moments Are Beautiful And Bittersweet

We could have been any other family. That’s how normal it was.

Rabbi Rebecca Schorr

For Activist Who Founded Matan, A School's Many Failings Hit Close To Home

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.

Meredith Englander Polsky

For Young Adults Who Can't Access Hillel, Where Is Jewish Life?

Ilyse loves singing Hebrew songs that she learned at Camp Ramah in New England. She loves watching the camp video where she can relive her summer memories as an Amitzim (special needs) camper, laughing with all her friends. That sense of Jewish connection and belonging that Ilyse feels at camp is exactly what we, as her mother and older sister, dream of finding for her in her school year and year-round in her adult life. Yesterday, Ilyse turned twenty. She has Down Syndrome. 

Betty Ross and Ilyse Ross

Proposal By Text: How Rotem, IDF Vet With A Brain Injury, Won Shelly

It was no ordinary marriage proposal. Rotem Langer is a 31-year-old disabled veteran of the Israeli army whose speech was affected by his injuries. “Sometimes I forget words,” says Rotem. “I didn’t want that to happen when I proposed to Shelly.”

Rotem and Shelly

Life Lessons In The Lunchline

Rabbi Chanina taught, "I have learned much from my teachers. I have learned more from my colleagues than my teachers. But I have learned more from my students than from all of them." (Babylonian Talmud, Taanit, 7a)

A mundane setting, but a profound lesson for both teachers and taught. Fotolia

Turning You Into We: I, Too, Have A Disability

Sometimes a leader is a person with a title and a desk at an organization. Other times they do something truly remarkable. They set an example.

Steven Rakitt
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