web analytics
March 31, 2015 / 11 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


A Journey To Faith: I’m Not Alone Anymore

Lessons-logo

Growing up with Cerebral palsy, I was angry. I asked, “Why am I disabled? Why is the kid next door Reform and healthy and my family is so religious and I am disabled?” I thought He was supposed to love us, but it seemed He was punishing me.

I was told He loves me. If He loves me, why do I go to special schools and why am I so alone and the kids all make fun of me?

Now I feel the opposite. As a grown-up I’ve learned more. I’m not alone anymore. I have a lot of friends who look up to me.

What astounds me is that these young kids from religious backgrounds tell me, “Your faith is so real, so deep. We say berachos and stuff because we’ve been taught for so long.”

For the last 10-15 years, I’ve been educated in my faith. Berachos really matter to me. I put thought into them. People really think it’s so amazing.

My friends say that I am amazing. They say I know something very special.

My friends accept me, so maybe Hashem accepts me.

Background:

There was a time in the 1960s that I was a resident in a non-Jewish school, Eastern State Residential, and ate treif food. I saw Mom once a week. These were the hardest two years. I was with challenged kids, one of whom hit me. I thought Hashem had abandoned me. But then I found a Jewish teacher there, Gertrude Cohen, and a Jewish speech therapist, Jackie Harmon. I now see that Hashem sent them to me.

Mrs. Cohen was a special-ed teacher. Based on an article she had read, she thought music therapy could help me. Jackie Harmon also helped very much. Because they and I were Jewish, they took a heightened interest in me. They were very nice and wonderful. The music helped me. I was very scared and shy and sat in the corner. The music brought me out.

This led them to the idea of a homemade record. They played Tom Jones and Frankie Valli. I was asked if I’d like to sing a voice-over – my voice over theirs. It was wonderful to hear it played back. The psychiatrist heard it and asked, “Is that Phyllis?” All they knew was the shy, timid person.

A change in schools:

The Right to Education Law mandates that if the public school couldn’t meet your needs, the government was obligated to help financially for admission to a private school. My parents found a wonderful private school: Delta. The only sad part about leaving the terrible place I attended was that I thought I would never see Mrs. Cohen and Mrs. Harmon again.

At my new school, Delta, my teacher was Michael Swanson. It was his first teaching job, and he was very dedicated. He was like the teacher from “Welcome Back, Kotter.” He was a very enthusiastic real-life comedian – and a bit of a ham.

I was the only one who got his jokes. He told my parents, “Phyllis doesn’t really belong in my class. She’s too smart.” But I wouldn’t be able to physically keep up with an advanced class.

Mr. Swanson raised my self-esteem. It was the first time anyone ever told me I was smart. Because I was deficient in reading and writing, people thought I was retarded. This teacher said, “No, you’re not.”

For those with neurological and learning challenges, not too many people in the 70s knew how to deal with it. They didn’t know how to label me. They didn’t know how I was to be classified. This person – Mr. Swanson – didn’t care how I was labeled. I was just a person, a kid with special needs.

He knew I liked game shows. Instead of a spelling test he used “Jeopardy” to create a test.

If I saw him today, I would thank him for being the best teacher I had. He told me I was smart, something no one had ever told me before. When I first arrived in his class, I wouldn’t raise my hand. By the end of my stay there, I knew the answers to the questions.

A sweet reunion:

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “A Journey To Faith: I’m Not Alone Anymore”

  1. Alan Magill says:

    I love this article, Brave and truthful and helpful.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Israel's favorite circus opens its 20th session Tuesday.
Knesset Opens the Tent to its 20th Circus
Latest Judaism Stories
Bodenheim-032715

Our ability to teach is only successful if done by example.

Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

Outside of the High Holidays, Pesach is probably the most celebrated biblical holiday for the majority of Jews.

Business-Halacha-logo

“If I notify people, nobody will buy the matzos!” exclaimed Mr. Mandel. “Once the halachic advisory panel ruled leniently, why can’t I sell the matzos regularly?”

The-Shmuz

So what type of praise is it that Aaron followed orders?

Her Children, Her Whim
‘Kesubas Bnin Dichrin’
(Kesubos 52b)

Question: Must one spend great sums of money and invest much effort in making one’s home kosher for Passover? Not all of us have such unlimited funds.

Name Withheld
(Via E-Mail)

Yachatz is not mentioned in the Gemara. What is the foundation for yachatz?

First, the punishment for eating chametz on Pesach is karet, premature death at the Hand of God.

Why is it necessary to invite people to eat from the korban Pesach?

How was I going to get to Manhattan? No cabs were going, we didn’t have a car, and many people who did have cars had no gas.

Did you ever notice that immediately upon being granted our freedom from Egypt, the Jewish people accepted upon themselves the yoke of a new master – Hashem?

Why does Torah make the priests go through a long and seemingly bizarre induction ceremony?

Often people in important positions separate from everyday people & tasks-NOT the Kohen Gadol

You smuggled tefillin into the camp? How can they help? Every day men risked their lives to use them

Rambam: Eating blood’s forbidden because connected to idolatry;Ramban: We’re affected by what we eat

Rambam warns that a festival meal without taking care of the needy isn’t fulfilling simchat yom tov

More Articles from Phyllis Lit
Lessons-logo

Growing up with Cerebral palsy, I was angry. I asked, “Why am I disabled? Why is the kid next door Reform and healthy and my family is so religious and I am disabled?” I thought He was supposed to love us, but it seemed He was punishing me.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/jewish-columns/lessons-in-emunah/a-journey-to-faith-im-not-alone-anymore/2013/05/01/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: