What Special-Needs Families Wish Their Rabbis Knew

What Special-Needs Families Wish Their Rabbis Knew; Removing the Stumbling Block

Ever read an article that just sticks with you? One that you are thinking about days and maybe even weeks after you read it?

That’s what the article What Special-Needs Families Wish Their Pastors Knew has been for me. It immediately and deeply resonated. Of course, I swapped “rabbi” for “pastor”, but yeah, it might as well have been written for synagogues.

Not all synagogues. Just as you can’t drape this piece like a blanket across all churches, neither can I make the broad statement that it would apply to all synagogues.

But it certainly applies to many.

Teaching Children to be Inclusive

Our personal memories of exclusion can be our most powerful teachers of inclusion; Removing the Stumbling Block

A few days ago someone I follow on Facebook shared the following article: How to Teach Your Child to be an “Includer”. It’s an article from this past summer, so I found myself wondering if she was sharing this now because it felt particularly timely, or if it was more of an extension of her own consistent, personal commitment to inclusion. Either way, it resonated with me and had me immediately recalling a post that I wrote for this blog which was widely shared: Teach Your Children to Be Accepting of Disabilities. 

It’s easy to write blog posts and forget about them. We live in an age of immediacy. Often, if something doesn’t happen in the moment, it won’t happen at all. Instant gratification has become the norm, even when we know that delaying gratification and taking time to process and reflect can be critical. It’s why I pointed out the fact that the article shared a few days ago was written a few months ago. Life moves fast. So even when blog posts “do well” and people read and share widely, a week or two later those same pieces are forgotten; and citing something written a few months or even a year ago can seem outdated.

But in this case, I think the message bears repeating and re-sharing: We CAN teach our children to be accepting. We CAN teach our children to be “includers”. And, maybe most importantly, we CAN teach our children to be kind.

Children really will do what we do. We have the power to model for them each and every day. We have the power to teach, through our own actions, how to be kind, compassionate and inclusive.

Fictional Characters Who Might As Well Have Been Talking About Disability Inclusion

I think that most of us can readily think of the “big players” when it comes to identifying the quotes that move us. We call to mind historical figures such as Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy Jr., Mother Teresa, Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr., or Nelson Mandela. Or we might name prominent literary figures such as Maya Angelou, Fred Rogers, Jane Austin, Dr. Seuss, or Anne Frank.

We likely have been inspired by most, if not all, of them, to be sure. It is easy to apply any of their quotes to whatever aspect of our lives needs a little push: leadership, education, relationships and yes, even disability inclusion. 

But here’s the thing: sometimes inspiration comes from an unexpected source.

5 Ways Sukkot is the Perfect Inclusive Holiday

 5 Ways Sukkot is the Perfect Inclusive Holiday; Removing the Stumbling Block

Sukkot can be the ideal Jewish holiday for disability inclusion. Ok, the truth is that every holiday should be inclusive. But certain holidays definitely lend themselves more naturally toward being inclusive than others, so I think we would be wise to learn what we can and apply it across other situations as we strive to make every holiday inclusive.

What is Sukkot?

“On the fifteenth day of this seventh month there shall be the Feast of Booths to the Eternal, [to last] seven days.” ~ Leviticus 23:34

Sukkot is a Pilgrimage Festival in which Jews celebrate the autumn harvest. The Torah identifies the sukkah (booth) with the temporary dwellings in which the Israelites lived during their journey through the wilderness to Israel. The mood of Sukkot is joyous. The symbolism of a successful harvest offers a welcome change of pace from Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur; which were much more solemn days of prayer and introspection.
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