In the Torah portion Shemot, God tells Moses to go back to Egypt and tell Pharaoh to “Let my people go!” (Exodus chapter 3) Moses explains to God that he isn’t the right person for this important job because of his ‘disability’: his speech is not clear. God instantly comes up with a solution: Aaron will be his brother’s interpreter. God recognizes the gift that Moses has and finds a way to utilize that strength through ‘reasonable accommodation’. Torah also teaches us not to ‘insult the Deaf or place a stumbling block before the blind” (Leviticus 19:14). And in the book of Genesis, we are told that we are ‘created in the image of God’ (Gen 1:26). Each of us is unique and each of us is worthy of that merit. Whatever our limitations may be, whatever challenges we face, we are all created in God’s image. What better proof-text to drive home the point that we all belong here!
Jewish Family & Children’s Service: Services for People with Disabilities is committed to providing a wide range of opportunities for people with disabilities and their families to participate in Jewish life. For example, every week, between 10 and 15 adults in our residential and day support programs gather to study Jewish texts, liturgy, holidays and traditions. It is impossible to adequately express the level of energy and excitement that is present at every class. Here, success is not measured by a letter grade or numeric value: it is measured by the love of learning that every participant brings to the class. For many of these students, it is their first time studying in a Jewish setting for others, it is a continuation of Hebrew School. But one thing is clear: for everyone it is an opportunity to be part of a community that is no only rich and vital but it is theirs-and they know it!
For more information about our residential services, day support services, social groups for adults and families, respite programs for families, Trust services, Information and Referral services and much more, please contact us at 781-647-5327 x5023.
Sandy Slavet has been the director of the Disabilities Resource Network (DRN) of JF&CS since it began in May 2001. Sandy also serves as the Jewish Life Coordinator for CHAI and CHAI Works, co-leads Chaverim Shel Shalom and Chaverim Chaim, and is the Human Rights trainer for CHAI and CHAI Works consumers. In addition to being Marie’s mom, Sandy is a nationally certified ASL Interpreter and has had many years experience working with deaf adults and children and with people with a wide range of disabilities.