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.

Caution: A Dangerous Autism Treatment

On a regular basis, parents of children who have autism come across numerous possible treatments options. Each child who has autism is unique and presents different behaviors, sensory and communication challenges and each child responds to therapies uniquely. Parents invest time and money finding the therapies that works best for their child and there is a lot of trial and error, energy, hope and frustration involved in the process.

A few weeks ago, I came across an article that talked about the "5 Scariest Autism Treatments," including “Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS).” I had never heard of Miracle Mineral Solution before and after doing some research on it I was shocked.

Frances Victory

Behind The Mask -- God's Presence

During the merry celebration of Purim this upcoming Saturday night and Sunday, children and even adults will wear masks and costumes.  Masks echo the theme of concealment in the Purim story itself, which we will read in the Scroll of Esther.

Rabbi Michael Levy

Ruderman Family Foundation Announces Third Annual Inclusion Prize

The Ruderman Family Foundation has announced the launch of the third annual Ruderman Prize in Inclusion global competition. The Prize recognizes organizations who have demonstrated their commitment to the full inclusion of people with disabilities into the Jewish community through innovative programs and services. The $250,000 prize will be split equally by five organizations.

“Our foundation is seeking to recognize and award excellence in the inclusion of people with disabilities in our Jewish community around the globe,” said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation.

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Wear A Mask For Merriment, Never Because Of Embarrassment!

Purim is fun, and food, and noise, but there is also a serious side to Purim. Before Esther reveals her Jewish identity to the king, she hides behind a mask of anonymity, one of many in the harem. Only after she speaks as Esther, the Jew, does she speak honestly, with her own voice. Her power comes from the honesty in her own voice and not behind her mask.

Many of us, especially in the special needs world, learn to live behind masks.

Rabbi Daniel Grossman

Movements Join Together At Yachad Shabbaton

Young adults with disabilities do not often get to enjoy Shabbat on a college campus with peers, but that's exactly what happened in early February when five Ramah campers, and four staff members, reunited at Brandeis for a Shabbaton.

What made the get-together even more special was that they were joining a large gorup of Yachad members and advisors for the annual New England Yachad Shabbaton. Yachad is a program of the Orthodox Union, members of all Jewish denominations are embraced and have the opportunity to engage with Judaism in their own ways.

Brandeis Shabbaton

Purim Resources

Editors Note: Gateways in Boston offers programs and services to children with special needs and educational challenges in Greater Boston's Jewish day schools, congregational and community supplemental schools and Jewish preschools, as well as Gateways’ own Sunday school, B'nei Mitzvah preparation program and teen youth group. They also share free, downloadable resources. Here we are highlighting their Purim resources for children with special learning needs.

Cakes and Miracles: a beautiful story about a boy who is blind, and an amazingly talented baker. Via matankids.org

Vayikra: Parenting And 'Perfection'

After Moses anoints the Tent of Appointed Meeting and the Priests who will officiate there, God speaks to him:

Explain to the sons of Israel the ways of bringing offerings to God. There will be offerings of animals and grains and fruit. Animals for sacrifice shall be male and without blemish. These animals shall be killed and washed and burned so each shall smoke on the altar in the Tent of Appointed Meeting. This will be for an ascent offering, an offering made by fire in expression of compliance to God and to make atonement before God.

AIPAC: Where Are The Sign Language And Captions?

Today, when Prime Minister Netanyahu gave a vital speech in front of 14,000 people at AIPAC on the threat of Iran and the need for a successful lasting and secure peace, there was no sign language interpreter or live captioning offered. There were more than 40 massive screens around the room showing the speech – yet not one of them enabled someone with a hearing impairment to follow the program.

At AIPAC, speakers showed up on huge screens but none offered captions for the hearing impaired. Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi

A Completely Unremarkable Story

A few weeks ago I attended our synagogue’s Kabbalat Shabbat service. This once-a-month service has an earlier start time than our traditional service and is followed by a congregational potluck dinner. The shorter service is ideal for many: Our youngest children who aren’t ready to be out past their bedtimes; teens who want to go out with friends later in the evening and adult members who don’t want to be out past their bedtimes after a full week of work. Our Kabbalat Shabbat is also a wonderful fit for an adult member of our congregation with developmental disabilities.

Lisa Friedman

Ki Tissa: Awareness Is Necessary, Not Sufficient

God’s initial revelation to the Israelites at Mount Sinai, when He uttered the Ten Commandments, was accompanied by lightning, thunder and shofar blasts that inspired the soul. The inspiration lasted just forty days.

Rabbi Michael Levy
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