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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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Talking Tachlis With Abbas

The question being asked in Jerusalem is whether Mahmoud Abbas will hear the same unpleasant truths about making peace and not missing another opportunity to create a Palestinian state when he visits the White House on Monday that Barack Obama had for Bibi Netanyahu last week.

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

Prayer Songs

When I was younger, I strived to emulate my two older brothers. I did so in many ways, but I particularly wanted to mimic their passion for playing an instrument. Others told me that I was too young and should wait a year or two to begin. Then Rebecca Teplow took one look at my fingers, after her piano lesson with my eldest brother, and told me that now was a perfect time to begin. I was thrilled.

Rebecca Teplow. Photo courtesy Hoebermann Studio

In Memoriam: Ambassador Sam Lewis

Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Samuel Lewis, who died Tuesday at 84, was "the essential American at Camp David" negotiations between Israel and Egypt because "he was the only one who really understood the Israelis," said Graeme Bannerman, former staff director of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  "Without his vociferous explanation of Israeli concerns and constraints, the American delegation may not have been able to develop a balanced position."

From Nachlaot To New York

Rav Raz Hartman is usually found in a crowded shul in Jerusalem’s Nachlaot neighborhood, reached by a steep staircase. His shul fuses music and mysticism, attracting Jews across the denominational and sartorial spectrum. A Jerusalem hipster may be swaying next to someone dressed in a flowing white robe.

Rav Raz Hartman at Mechon Hadar. Courtesy of Mechon Hadar

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

Winds Of War Or Just Hot Air?

The Russian seizure of the Crimea may be one of the most serious international crises in years and should stimulate serious foreign policy debate in Washington.

Instead, there's just more of same old political posturing and partisan bickering as both the President and his critics are fumbling around looking clueless.

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