Editor's Note: At the "New Normal," we're excited that two of this year's "36 Under 36" winners work for more inclusion of people with disabilities. We're sharing one of the profiles today:
When Tikvah Juni was 16, she received her first standing ovation.
“I remember all the people, cheering and smiling,” said Juni, who had been the guest speaker at an event hosted by Yachad: The National Jewish Council for Disabilities.
“That was the first time I really believed the world could change,” she said. Since then, she’s been trying to change the world one speech at a time.
Juni, who has Down syndrome, travels around the U.S. teaching audiences about inclusion. In Washington, D.C., she even lobbied state and federal legislators to increase resources for special needs students.
Yesterday, the Masorti Movement for Conservative Judaism in Israel sent a letter to Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin, signed by the leaders of every major Conservative Jewish organization, urging him to reconsider the cancellation of a bar and bat mitzvah ceremony for children with disabilities.
The mayor of Rehovot, Israel had cancelled the bar mitzvah last month because it was taking place in a Conservative, not Orthodox, synagogue. That move sparked outrage on social media from the progressive Jewish community in Israel and around the world. In response, representatives of the Masorti Movement for Conservative Judaism and officials from the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs worked on a compromise with members of the President of Israel's office. The parents and children were happy with the outcome and it seemed like the ceremony was set to take place.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been trying to assure the Americans and Europeans that he still supports the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict despite a mountain of evidence that it is a case "that may be what I said but it's not what I meant."
He says he supports it in principle, but in practice there's a lot of contradictory evidence:
Don’t look for Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), the only Jewish presidential candidate in the 2016 sweepstakes and only one who actually lived in Israel, to join the panderfest of candidates trying to out-Israel each other. I doubt he’ll even make a photo-op pilgrimage to the Holy Land as so many, especially Republicans, are.
One standout among the many featured authors at this year’s Book Expo America at the Javits Center last week was the late Italian chemist and writer Primo Levi, who died in 1987 and is best known for his memoirs of surviving Auschwitz, “If This Is a Man” and “The Periodic Table.”
At last summer has begun! We've celebrated Memorial Day; soon we will be enjoying the fireworks of the 4th of July and before we know it, we'll be saying good bye to the summer with our Labor Day plans. This past Memorial day, I went to a Mets game with friends and family. As I walked around through the parking lot, gift shop, museum and food area, I began to think about how a child with autism may feel overwhelmed at baseball game or any kind of event in a crowded public area that families may wish to attend over the summer.