In Israel, a new five month scholarship program being offered to young aspiring athletes – one of them could be you.
(Names have been changed)
Last week, I wrote about the need to make Jewish institutions open to all Jews. Ramps to bimas, buildings and mikvaos are something that need to be in the plans of all new buildings and when renovations are being undertaken in old ones. However, accessibility is not only something physical. It is also a way of thinking.
It was Chanukah. Every year, Shmuel’s shul set up a giant Menorah on the lawn. The shul was located in a mixed community and the lights of this Menorah shining bright, in contrast to other seasonal lights, made the Jews in the area proud and helped them with feelings of identification. Shmuel was one of the regular members of the shul and well known among the congregants. He was usually on time to minyan, no matter what the weather was. He always made sure he had someone to push him in his wheelchair every Shabbos morning.
This year, the first night of Chanukah fell on Friday night. When Shmuel arrived at shul, he discovered that the Menorah was not in its usual place on the lawn. Instead, it was placed at the top of the ramp. The Menorah was blocking the only accessible entrance into the shul. Shmuel had to go home and daven without a minyan that Shabbos. Although he still continued to daven at his shul since it was the only accessible one in the neighborhood, he somehow he never felt the same about it. He felt that he was no longer a full-fledged member.
Daniel was invited to a simcha which was held in his shul. His shul had a beautiful ramp right in the front that blended in with the architecture of the building. Daniel appreciated not having to use some makeshift ramp hidden somewhere in the back, like he had to do in a lot of other buildings. They were often as unsafe as they were ugly and hidden.
The simcha had been lovely. It was held in the all-purpose room that housed the sanctuary and the social hall. Daniel had easy access to everything from the washing stations to the bathrooms. The shul was simply set up that way.
However, when Mincha was announced, everyone was asked to go downstairs to the nursery room for the service so that the sanctuary could be used to set up a sweet table. Daniel was the only one remaining upstairs since the only way to get downstairs was a large flight of steps. He would have preferred to be able to daven with a minyan than to eat the sweets, and wondered why they couldn’t have used one of the other upstairs rooms for Mincha. But the worst part for Daniel is that no one seemed to notice that anything was wrong. Everyone accepted that Daniel simply couldn’t get downstairs and there was no alternative. So, he wouldn’t be part of the minyan, oh well.
Moshe’s children attended a Yeshiva in his community. Though the entrance to the school had a ramp, all the classes, bathrooms and offices were either upstairs or downstairs. The only thing on the main floor was the auditorium and kitchen. When it was time for parent-teacher interviews, Moshe accompanied his wife, assuming she would just have to go upstairs and ask the teacher to have the interview in the downstairs hall so he could attend. Much to their surprise and pleasure, they noticed that all their interviews had been already scheduled in the auditorium. Everyone from the classroom teacher to the gym teacher was scheduled to meet them there. They never had to ask. Later in the year, when classes had programs to which parents were invited, Moshe’s children’s classes always had theirs scheduled in the auditorium. Moshe never had to ask, his children never had to feel left out, and the school never said a word. Things just happened automatically, or so it seems, to accommodate the disability.
A few years later, when the school’s kitchen was being redone, a piece of the kitchen was taken away to make an accessible main floor washroom. It was done quietly and without any fanfare, as if it was a given that this was the right thing to do.
Accessibility is not just a ramp or a lift. It is not just Braille on light switches and rooms. It is also the way we treat people. Are we inclusive in our community or exclusive? Do we consider the needs of everyone and not just when we build or renovate, but when and how we hold a simcha, celebrate a holiday or hold a class event?
Think for a minute, how you would feel if you arrived at your shul to find your entrance barred, but everyone else was admitted. Think how you would feel if you were unable to attend your child’s school events or were left alone and not allowed to daven with everyone else. Sit for a minute in those chairs. Perhaps then you can see that providing access is not only about ramps and lifts, but is also about our sensitivity and realization of all our members’ needs.
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Leah Katz, a TeenZone camper at Oorah’s TheZone summer camp and an 11th grader at Midwood High School, read her winning essay about how TheZone changed her views on Judaism at the Jewish Heritage Awards Ceremony held at Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes’s office in April. The purpose of the Jewish Heritage Essay Contest is to acquaint public school students with Jewish history and customs and to help foster a deeper understanding of Jewish culture. The contest is open to students of all ethnic and religious backgrounds. Leah’s essay is reproduced in full below.
Moshe Sharett, the head of the Jewish Agency’s Political Department, visited Egypt in 1945. In Cairo he met a most remarkable young woman, a beautiful journalist who was the darling of Egyptian high society – from high-ranking military brass, to culture icons and Muslim sheikhs, to the court of King Faruk.
The two proceeded to talk about everyday things and surprisingly her mother-in-law did not find anything else to criticize. This occurred a few more times, with my client changing the topic every time by complimenting her mother-in-law or mentioning something positive about her.
There is always a lot of confusion surrounding sensory processing disorder – mainly because there are many different diagnoses that fall under the catch-all phrase sensory processing disorder (SPD). Among them are three specific subcategories:
The doctor had warned us that even if we did everything right and followed the protocol after the follicle was of the right size, there was no guarantee of success. Fertilization still had to occur, and just like couples do not necessarily become pregnant every month, we had no way to know if we were actually expecting for two full weeks.
The next chapter of the award-winning novel.
Jewish Press columnist Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis, founder and president of Hineni, the international Torah outreach organization, recently addressed an overflowing audience at the Beth Jacob Congregation of Irvine in southern California. Rebbetzin Jungreis’s address theme, “Making a Good Relationship Magical,” was apropos for the evening’s main mission: raising funds for the Irvine community’s mikveh.
You have probably been planning your marriage since you were about three. Let’s fast-forward to a big milestone– your twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. (Don’t worry, you don’t look a day over twenty one!) Now, would you appreciate your husband buying you a dozen roses that some florist recommended?
As I mentioned in my earlier articles about our family trip to Israel, our night flight went pretty smooth, thanks to my children’s willingness to sleep throughout the flight. I, on the other hand, didn’t sleep a wink and I wasn’t feeling too great by the time we landed. But we were finally in Israel, and just being in the beautifully renovated Ben Gurion airport and hearing all the Hebrew around us was exciting enough.
While all the flowers that grace your Shavuos table will surely be a delight to your eye, these will be a delight for your palette as well. Create them at any level, simple or sophisticated; any way you make them they’re sure to be a sensation.
Welcome back to “You’re Asking Me?” where we attempt to answer questions sent in by people who fortunately have fake names, so they won’t be embarrassed. I don’t know how they got through school, though.
Speechless wonder is the reaction to the beautiful vision seen though the Arch of the Keshet Cave at the Adamit Park in the Galilee. One of the most amazing natural wonders in Eretz Yisrael, the Me’arat Hakeshet — also known as the Rainbow Cave or Arch Cave — can be found up against the Israel-Lebanon border just a few kilometers from Rosh Hanikra and the sparkling blue Mediterranean Sea. It is situated amid the wild scenery on the cliffs of Nachal Betzet and Nachal Namer, on the Adamit Ridge.
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-2/2004/09/01/
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