Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

31 for 21 - beauty, again

Goes well with this post:


31 for 21 - "disability", again

And again, another article pointing out that "disability" is a social construct.  We all have strengths and weaknesses, and some of those get labeled a "disability" while others do not.  Which weaknesses are socially stigmatized is dependent on the social context.  A few hundred years ago, my severe nearsightedness would have been a debilitating disability, since effective optometry was not generally available.  At the same time, "learning disabilities" did not really exist, since there was not a universal expectation of literacy and schooling.  Someone who did not function well in an academic environment simply pursued other endeavors which were better suited to his/her strengths.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

31 for 21 - Summer Camp Inclusion

Many Jewish organizations have been slow to take up the cause of special needs inclusion, especially intellectual/developmental special needs.  Jewish culture places a high value on intellectual achievement, and seems to regard intellectual disability as a failing, either on the part of the child, or his/her parents. 

As this article points out in the introduction, this is antithetical to Jewish liturgy.  Moses himself had a speech impediment, and needed Aaron's assistance to take his prophetic message to the Pharaoh, as well as to the Jewish people.  If anything, this is a model of inclusion at work: Moses was provided with the necessary accommodations which allowed his leadership to shine.

As a counselor at the Jewish summer camp Camp Ramah, the author of the article discovered that sharing each camper's challenges was empowering for all, as both typical and disabled campers realized that we are not defined or limited by our challenges.  This echoes the insight that the mom in yesterday's post made when talking with her children.  We all have our unique strengths and challenges.  Society arbitrarily labels some of these "disabilities", but these are artificial constructs, not facts of reality.  The reality, which we aspire to see reflected in society, is that our value is in our common humanity and in the way we treat each other.

31 for 21 - Talking with children

Children have very few prejudices (not having had a chance to learn too many yet), and have no filter or guile about those prejudices which they have absorbed.  In talking with children, we can learn what we have inadvertently taught them, for good or bad.  Such conversations are excellent mirrors to hold up to ourselves.  Perhaps we think nothing of using foul language, until we hear it echoed from the mouths of our offspring. Or we don't realize ways in which we stereotype others, until our filter-free kiddos say something that makes us cringe.  Conversely, how lovely it is when our children think it completely natural to speak politely, offer sincere compliments, and share freely, because this is the behavior they see modeled in the home.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

What's next for 5775?

Well, I've succeeded in doing a year of Torah Connection, and a year of Haftorah Beam.  I've gone through the Amidah and Pirkei Avot.

Tehillim (Psalms)?
Mishlei (Proverbs)?

What would you like to see?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Haftorah Beam - Index


What is Haftorah?

Occasionally, the Sabbath falls on the first day of the Jewish month, and the Rosh Hodesh haftorah is substituted for the regular reading.

Bereishit - Genesis

Chayei Sarah
Miketz -> Hanukah

Shemot - Exodus

Ki Tissa

Vayikra - Leviticus

Achrei Mot/Shabbat Hagadol

Bamidbar - Numbers


Devarim - Deuteronomy

Ki Teitze
Ki Tavo
Ha'azinu/Shabbat Shuva
V'Zot HaBracha

Khazak, khazak, va-nitkhazek!

Haftorah Beam - vZot haBracha

This parsha is read, not on Shabbat, but on Simchat Torah -- the "Great Rewind".  We finish reading the five books of Moses, and immediately cycle back to the beginning of Genesis.

The Torah reading ends with the death of Moses, as the people are about to enter the Promised Land. The Haftorah completes this theme with the beginning of the book of Joshua, as the people enter Israel and prepare to conquer and inhabit it.  On the brink of a new endeavor, full of risk and promise, these words resonate for us:

ט  הֲלוֹא צִוִּיתִיךָ חֲזַק וֶאֱמָץ, אַל-תַּעֲרֹץ וְאַל-תֵּחָת:  כִּי עִמְּךָ יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, בְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר תֵּלֵךְ.  9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage; be not affrighted, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.'

31 for 21 - Sukkot

Well, Sukkot is half-over, but here is our new Sukkah for this year:

Friday, October 10, 2014

Thursday, October 9, 2014

31 for 21 - siblings

This is a blog I don't usually read, but this time I did, and I thought it was very nicely done.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

31 for 21 - discrimination

Looks like this year, my participation in 31 for 21 will mostly be limited to linking to other bloggers....  Here is a piece by my friend Jisun, examining the real-life consequences -- in some cases, life-and-death consequences -- of "othering" people with disabilities.  In any situation where we try to justify treating people with disabilities differently, would we use the same logic to justify racial or gender discrimination?

Sunday, October 5, 2014

31 for 21 - high expectations

Through the blog linkup, I came across this blog, of the parents of an adorable 2-year-old with T21 (aka Trisomy 21 aka Down syndrome).  His parents refuse to limit him based on any preconceptions.  As a result, although he certainly has delays in some areas, in other areas he is at -- or even above! -- his age-level peers.

Did I mention he's cute?

Friday, October 3, 2014

31 for 21

I don't expect to be able to participate in the full month for Down Syndrome Awareness Month, but do check out Big Blueberry Eyes for lots of cool DS bloggers!

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