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2013 URJ Biennial

Twitter as a Means to Process a Professional Conference: Reflections on @URJ’s Biennial13



It happens every time. I forget how truly overwhelming the Union for Reform Judaism’s Biennial convention will be. I know that I will be busy with sessions, presentations and meetings. I know that I will walk (and walk and walk); that I will learn, talk, laugh and sing. And I know that I won’t nearly […]

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Sometimes Inclusion Makes Me Nervous



On Yom Kippur morning, an amazing young woman came to our bimah to chant Torah.  She happens to be blind. And while I eagerly anticipated what I knew would be a stunning aliyah, I found myself really nervous. Why would I be nervous?  This should have been a moment of immense pride that the inclusive […]

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10 Steps to Make Your Congregation More Inclusive



Inclusion can seem overwhelming for a community that has not previously made accommodations or offered inclusive programming for individuals with disabilities. My advice? Start small, but start somewhere – and while this may help to make the task seem somewhat less daunting, I suspect that for many, it begs the question, “How do I begin?” […]

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When We Can’t Make Inclusion Work



Sometimes you just can’t make it work. Thirteen years ago Temple Beth-El in Somerset County, New Jersey, recognized the need for a special education expert in the religious school and hired me to help build and run a program to meet the needs of children who were not experiencing success in traditional classes. We have […]

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Not All Disabilities are Visible



I recently saw the video “I am Brianna Couture” (with thanks to the Ruderman Family Foundation blog Zeh Lezeh for bringing it to my attention). It’s a video meant to open our eyes to the notion of invisible disabilities. After watching, I got to thinking: This is a great, eye-opening opportunity to re-frame our perceptions […]

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Turn Meaningful Reflection into Positive Action: A Look Back at Jewish Disability Awareness Month



It’s May. Can you believe it? Every year it seems to sneak up on me. But here it is. Most synagogues and Jewish professionals are at the point in the year that I typically call the “race to the finish line.” We are busy completing our program years, winding down religious schools and looking toward […]

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Affording Inclusion



This week, I was contacted by a colleague at another Reform synagogue. She shared that a member of their community is interested in endowing a special education program for their religious school, and she hoped that I might be willing to dream with them a little. She asked me, “What would you do with $30,000? […]

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Special Education is Good Education



“Special education is good education.” Have you heard that before? Some might even feel that this has become a cliché.  It doesn’t matter, really, because it is true. Do you find yourself eager to believe it but struggling to make it a reality? Here are some strategies: All students benefit from a multi-sensory approach to […]

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When it Comes to Full Inclusion, It’s Time to Make (Y)our Move



Most of the time I see the Jewish world through my Jewish Special educator lens. For me, last week’s NFTY Convention and Youth Engagement Conference were no exception. Three significant things happened: 1.  Rabbi Rick Jacobs spoke of special needs and Jewish Disability Awareness Month from the bimah on Shabbat morning.  He shared the bimah […]

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Let Every Voice be Heard



Since starting my blog, Jewish Special Needs Education, I realize that I am noticing inclusion – and the absence of inclusion – all the time. It kind of reminds me of being pregnant and noticing other pregnant woman everywhere you go! But more on this in a moment. I spent this Shabbat in Los Angeles […]

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Parents as Partners in Jewish Special Education



Recently I had the good fortune to offer a workshop for educators that I called, “Parents as Partners: Working with Parents in Jewish Special Needs Education.” I was well aware, from the start of the workshop, that the educators assembled wanted pointers on how to handle difficult conversations with parents. They were eager to help […]

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Meeting the Needs of Visually Impaired Jewish Students



At Temple Beth-El, we are very fortunate to have a student in our program who is blind. Braille is one of the coolest things I have ever seen (no pun intended), and Hebrew Braille is even cooler. (Note: The Jewish Braille Institute, JBI, will put all of your materials, including textbooks, into Braille for free. […]

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“Helping to Shape Young Jewish Lives”: One Congregation’s Special Needs Success Stories



When you walk into Temple Beth-El in Hillsborough, N.J., on a Sunday morning, you are likely to see an exciting scene. On any given Sunday, you might notice various programs taking place, parents stopping into the building and socializing with one another, children scurrying past on their way to religious school classes, and enthusiastic, committed […]

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Educating David… and Sarah, Sam, Eli and all Jewish children



When you walk into Temple Beth-El in Hillsborough, New Jersey on a Sunday morning, you are likely to see a familiar scene. On any given Sunday, one might notice various programs taking place, parents stopping into the building and socializing with one another, children scurrying past on their way to Religious School classes, and enthusiastic, committed […]

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