Posted by Dawny Gershkowitz, Temple Emunah

In the last 6 months, some nearly inexplicable issues have led me to go from a hiker and a biker to a woman with a walker.  I suddenly need an Handicapped Parking Permit tag so I can park close to my destinations.  I suddenly realize that a shoveled sidewalk is meaningless if I can’t get over the snow mound between the sidewalk and the street; that there are not enough HP parking spaces anywhere; that getting my mail from the mailboxes at the end of the road is often impossible. 

I never thought about any of this at length before.  And yet I was a special needs teacher for a long time.   I loved the bond I built with my students and their families; I loved the opportunity to help them do what ‘everyone else does’; I loved celebrating the day-to-day victories that so many of us take for granted.  But suddenly I’m seeing it from their perspective.  Being able to participate in your community,  the world around you, your social group,  your neighborhood, suddenly has taken much greater significance. 

I understand why people who deal with issues might prefer to be considered ‘differently abled’ instead of ‘disabled’.  I understand why a program that emphasizes inclusion can be so valuable.

Three such programs are coming up. 

The first is: Havdallah Happening, January 19 at 6:30 PM. The whole Temple Emunah community will enjoy a musical Havdallah, a delicious dinner, and entertainment, as we invite adults and teens with special needs from outside our community to join us.  

The next is Mahaneh (Camp) Emunah, an inclusive, family-friendly Sabbath service, on Jan. 25 at 6:00 PM.  The energetic, one-hour service will include spirited singing and dancing and be followed by a community meal, Sabbath rituals, games and activities.

Mahaneh Emunah will replicate the inclusive services pioneered at Camp Ramah, making the service accessible to everyone of every age.  Under the auspices of the Family Education Committee and supported by Camp Ramah and Jewish Family and Children’s Services of Boston, this program is part of Temple Emunah’s commitment to creating a Jewish community that is warm and engaging to the entire Jewish family.   Visit  Templeemuah.org  or call Christine Sturniolo at office@templeemunah.org or 781-861-0300Dinner is $15 (adults), $10 (children), with a $45 Family Cap.  Subsidies are available.  Please RSVP by1/22.  (https://www.jewishboston.com/events/18355-mahaneh-camp-emunah)

The third program, sponsored by the CJP Disabilities Committee and the Special Needs Professionals Committee, celebrates Jewish Disability Awareness.  On Monday, February 4, from 6:30-9:00 p.m. at the Leventhal-Sidman JCC in Newton, there will be a special screening of the hit Israeli film, Mabul, which tells the story of two brothers: Tomer, coming home after many years in an institution, and his younger brother, Yoni, who is preparing for his bar mitzvah

Mabul is presented by the Boston Jewish Film Festival and the ReelAbilities film festival.

 There will be a reception before and a talk after  the film, to discuss issues raised by the movie.   For more information, and to register, visit JewishBoston.com/disabilitiesresources.

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