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.
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.
Editor's Note: Each year, the Jewish Agency for Israel sends a group of young emissaries (shlichim) to serve as counselors and specialists at Camp Ramapo, a summer camp in Northern New-York, Dutchess County, for children with special needs. A non-profit established in 1922, Ramapo gathers a wide spectrum of special needs children under one umbrella. The shlichim at Ramapo bring a cultural perspective that has become a special part of the Ramapo experience. Shaked Karp, 24, came to Ramapo three years ago after completing her service in an Israeli army intelligence unit and has has returned every year since. She explains why here.
Almost 100 percent of the 2,607 relatively engaged Jews polled by RespectAbilityUSA and Jerusalem U agree that “Jewish events and organizations should be as welcoming and inclusive of people with disabilities as everyone else,” with 89 percent of the sample agreeing strongly.
I have always looked forward to attending synagogue services on Rosh Hashanah. Hearing the shofar often felt like a spiritual cleansing: a reminder that this was the time of year to think about your wrong doings and ask God for forgiveness.
Recently, Jewish Learning Venture hosted a webinar on “High Holiday Inclusion” as part of outreach to clergy and lay leadership in the Philadelphia vicinity. We are sharing some tips that we hope your community can utilize, either this year or in the future, to make your synagogue truly a house of worship for all people.
For the first time in 115 years, Rosh HaShanah occurs just after Labor Day and coincides with the beginning of school for children and teachers in many states across the country. While Rosh Hashanah is always a time for reflection, this Jewish New Year provides us with a unique opportunity.