Friday, April 17, 2009

A Special Day

Tomorrow will be a special day for my family, as we will be celebrating my daughter Sarah's Bat Mitzvah. Sort of. Since she has moderate autism, the service will be an abbreviated one, Sarah will read and sing a few prayers, Benjamin will read a few for her, and I'll be doing the Torah reading on her behalf. The important point is that it wil be her special day, and many of her teachers, friends, and classmates will be present. It's going to be a special event for the local autism community, as well as a meaningful moment for the Congregation Adas Emuno community.

So, in anticipation of this event, I want to include in this post an interesting video that was created by Tiffany Shlain called The Tribe. Tiffany is the daughter of the California surgeon, and media ecologist, Leonard Shlain (for whom I have said many prayers of healing at Adas Emuno). You can get background information about the film and filmmakers at the website for The Tribe. But here's the synopsis:

What can the most successful doll on the planet show us about being Jewish today? Narrated by Peter Coyote, the film mixes old school narration with a new school visual style. The Tribe weaves together archival footage, graphics, animation, Barbie dioramas, and slam poetry to take audiences on an electric ride through the complex history of both the Barbie doll and the Jewish people- from Biblical times to present day. By tracing Barbie's history, the film sheds light on the questions: What does it mean to be an American Jew today? What does it mean to be a member of any tribe in the 21st Century?

So, what are you waiting for? Watch it already, it's less than 20 minutes long:

[Sorry, at some point after I posted this entry, the video was made private.] This video actually says a lot about my son and his peers in the Jewish community. The form of the film interestingly mimics the discontinuities of electronic media, from television's flow of broken narrative segments and interrupting commercial messages, to our clicking around and following various links on the web.

But I also want to add something here that relates to the autism community, and I was fortunate to find the following video on a blog post by one of my MySpace friends with the profile name Flame in the Snow. The video is described as follows:

Slideshow of the transition of autistic author, artist, singer-songwriter Donna Williams from infancy to adulthood with a parallel journey told through her artworks.

I have read a number of the books that Donna Williams has written about her experiences growing up and living with autism, and really love them, so I'm very happy to include this video here:

So, that's all for now, I'll let you know how it went. Oh, and let me leave you with a favorite picture of my daughter and me, taken at a fundraiser for autism a couple of years ago.

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