Meir Panim’s Tiberias Free Restaurant not only provides warm meals, but the opportunity to socialize as well.
(Names and situation changed as requested)
It is difficult and expensive to make old institutions accessible to wheelchairs. Most bimas (elevated platform where services are led in the synagogue) have steps, as do most synagogue entrances, funeral parlors, mikvos, and schools. Consequently, we have in our community the aged, the disabled (both young and old) who are denied access to the very institutions they need in order to live a Jewish life.
If a man cannot enter the synagogue of his choice because he is in a wheelchair; if he cannot get on to the bima to receive an aliya when called to the Torah; if a woman cannot use the mikva because she cannot climb steps; if people cannot pay their last respects to their family and friends, perhaps even a spouse at a funeral because the funeral parlor has only stairs, then have we indeed fulfilled our responsibility as Jews?
Chava Laya was a young married woman when an accident left her unable to walk without difficulty. She often used a wheelchair and could sometimes manage with a walker. Stairs, however, were impossible for her to deal with. Because Chava Laya lived in a new development, most of the buildings she needed were accessible. The community center and the shul all had ramps and she had no problem getting into them. The problem came with the mikva. Although the entrance to the building was level with the ground and had no steps, the actual mikva pools had steps. This effectively barred Chava Laya from entering the mikva.
The Chesed Shel Emes was the community funeral parlor in Romi’s town. It was the only Jewish funeral parlor. Many people had complained that is was old and tired looking and needed some sprucing up, and so some community money was gotten together to paint and renovate. The outside was power washed and looked quite nice, the inside was painted and the place had become very serene looking and appropriate once again. Since the community was ageing, someone brought up concerns about accessibility. The board felt they already had wheelchair access in the back and a new entrance wasn’t needed. If you were in a wheelchair and needed to enter the building, this is how it was done.
Someone who could walk would have to take the wheelchair to the alley, leave it there, and go into the building and ask someone in the office to unlock the back door. Once the back door was opened, the wheelchair could be pushed through a very narrow hallway that had an opened steep stairwell on its right side.
If you managed to get through the hallway without tipping the wheelchair down the steps, you could then noisily open the old door that led into the chapel. You would then find yourself in front of the entire congregation, including the mourners and the deceased. Entering was often noisy and disruptive. Imagine what it was like to enter late after the service had already begun?
There was a wonderful yeshiva in David’s neighborhood. He was looking so forward to going there with his friends. David had been born with Spina Bifida and needed a wheelchair to get around. He had made an excellent adjustment to his handicap and had many neighborhood friends. The problem was that the yeshiva was in an old building. The classrooms on many floors and steps were everywhere. David’s parents met with the school. It was decided that David’s aide would carry him in his chair into the building and wherever he needed to go. The aide would do all the lifting. This worked not badly in kindergarten and grade one, but as David got older he got heavier. Each grade meant it was harder and harder to carry David around the building. David began to get more embarrassed as he grow older. Everyone, including David, began to wonder what would happen in high school. That is, if they managed to get through carrying him around elementary school and he survived the embarrassment.
Herschel visited his children for Yom Tov. He had an orderly with him to help with his needs, as he was severely physically handicapped. He was looking forward to spending this time with his children and grandchildren. Herschel was surprised to find that not only was the shul his son belonged to inaccessible, but there was not a single synagogue in the neighborhood that was wheelchair friendly.
Our institutions often reflect our values as a community. We are instructed to build a mikva even before we build a shul. It is part of our priorities for survival. But, is it survival for the majority of the community or all of us? Are our institutions open to everyone in our community or have we excluded a few? If we have excluded – even inadvertently – some in our community, maybe we need to take another look at our community institutions. Is not that our responsibility as Jews?
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The sage Hillel summarized the entire Torah by saying, “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn it.”
Sometimes it is hard to help people, and sometimes you can help people by just using whatever it is you have at the time – even an amazing fishing rod.
Musial told the taunted Jackie Robinson: “I want you to know that I’m not like many of the other guys on my team.”
Brooklyn resident David Siller, currently studying in Israel at Yeshivat Yesodei HaTorah in Beit Shemesh, was awarded a trophy for finishing 3rd in his age group (14-18) in a 5-kilometer race for the benefit of the Benjamin Children’s Library of Beit Shemesh.
Today is day six without a phone.
Besides for feeling slightly isolated, it’s not too bad.
I’ve been doing things that I know I would not be doing if my phone was sitting next to me, shiny screen beckoning.
Is anyone else alarmed by the way extended warranties are sold on just about anything and everything? It means one of two things – either someone has found a great way of getting consumers to part with more of their hard earned dollars or manufacturers have no faith in their own products. Neither of those options is particularly heartwarming.
As I described Gaon in a review in June 2001 (“In Search of Ancestors, Sculpture by Simon Gaon” at Yeshiva University Museum), his Bukharian Jewish roots are deeply embedded on both sides of his family, echoed in his early yeshiva education.
Let me begin by congratulating my dear machatunim, Soraya and Jay Nimaroff, on being the recipients of the Community Service Award at the Sderot Hesder Institutions 18th annual anniversary dinner.
Think of your issues this way: due to those different backgrounds, you have a “shovel” to deal with difficulties while he has a “spoon”.
Do you remember the good old days when kids were kids and there was never anything to worry about? Those days never really existed, but today there are issues kids worry about that weren’t issues for some adults. They include fear of bullying, natural disasters, divorce, and violence.
In Part I talked about celebrating 30 years of Regesh Family and Child Services providing services to children, teens and families. I shared the agency’s origin and the many lessons I have learned through this journey. As I mentioned, it is my hope that my experiences will add to your toolbox of life skills.
Unfortunately, a map of the Middle East with no mention of Israel is nothing new… It is surprising however, that the world’s largest publisher of children’s literature, Scholastic Books, has joined in this trend.
When one is blind one learns to use Braille to read. When one cannot walk, a wheelchair gives mobility. Sign language allows a mute person to speak and ocular implants assist in hearing when one is deaf. These are all compensatory strategies that help a person function despite his disability. But compensatory strategies are not just for physical problems. Understanding our psychological weaknesses and setting up our lives to ensure that we are not tempted to repeat our past mistakes, is as necessary as any aid to the disabled.
Well spouses have often discovered that their friends and relatives, despite their closeness to the situation, often don’t realize the tremendous emotional impact living with chronic illness has on the family. With the best intentions, suggestions, ideas and criticism are offered, based on the non-experience of those with healthy families. Even when the good intentioned get a taste of the difficulties, it is sometimes not enough for them to then identify and understand what the family of the chronically ill must face on a constant basis.
Over the past two weeks I have shared letters from a therapist and a well spouse. Both of the letters gave personal insights into the process of losing hope, how we react when that happens and some ways of coping when test scores, diagnosis and just simple repetitive behavior indicate that change for the better is impossible.
I’ve read your last few articles on psycho-neurological testing (Oct.8-22) with interest. As a therapist who has counseled couples dealing with chronic illness, I’d like to give you another perspective.
Your articles on the Neuro-Psychological Testing were right on (October 8-22). My husband underwent testing twice and your articles explained it things exactly the way they were. Besides the test, we also tried therapy.
Very often when we can’t face our big hurts or big loses we focus on the little ones. We can discuss those. We can cry over the small loses, be angry at the smaller hurts even though it may look trite and sound ridiculous to others.
Over the last two weeks we have been discussing one way in which well spouses can determine whether behavior displayed by their ill partners is caused by their illness or is a way they have chosen to act. We have focused on Psycho-Neurological testing, what it can tell us, as well as its pros and cons.
Last week I discussed a question that haunts many well spouses: not knowing if the difficult and often inappropriate behavior frequently displayed by their partners are caused by the disease and therefore not-controllable, or if the behavior is a choice the spouse makes and can therefore be changed. This doubt can be the source of much frustration and many marital disagreements. One way of alleviating this doubt is by having a psycho- neurological work up done. But that path is not so simple.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/accessibility-and-our-community-part-1/2004/08/25/
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