Thursday, April 1, 2010
Autism Awareness at Adas Emuno
April is Autism Awareness Month, and so I thought I would share a video taken at Congregation Adas Emuno that features my daughter, and Cantor Shapiro, the spiritual leader of our temple, and yeah, I'm in it too.
After working with Sarah to give her an uniquely-tailored Bat Mitzvah ceremony, which was held last year, as I reported in a post entitled Slow of Speech and of a Slow Tongue, and after getting feedback from my wife Barbara, Cantor Shapiro had the idea of holding a special Sabbath service once a month for people with developmental disabilities and their families, a service that is of course open to all, but one that would be especially welcoming and inviting to and comfortable for the autism community.
The service is called Shabbat Meyuchad, which is simply the traditional name for the afternoon service on the Sabbath, it's strong on music (which appeals to many on the autism spectrum, and off it for that matter), and it's been held on the first Saturday of each month at 2 PM at our temple in Leonia, New Jersey.
So, this became a news story on our local cable news show. The person who came to film us on a weekday afternoon made it a point to get us to pronounce all of the Hebrew words correctly, but somehow the anchor totally messed them up, saying "Adas Emuno" (should be ah-Dahss eh-Moon-oh), "Meyuchad" (should be may-Yoo-chahd), and even "Shabbat" (should be shah-Baht) totally wrong! And their use of the inappropriate phrase, "mentally challenged," in reference to individuals with developmental disabilities is enough to make me cringe. Well, what can you expect from cable? (If you've been reading some of my recent posts, you know the answer to that one!)
But it was still good publicity, after all, and good to see us all on the old TV set.
The question of inclusion comes up quite often in discussions relating to the education of people with disabilities. Religious inclusion does not receive anywhere near the same amount of attention, but it is very much relevant to inclusion in general, to be a part of one's family and community. And while you might expect it only natural for religious institutions to make the effort to include individuals with disabilities, all too often that's not the case. It means a great deal to me that our congregation has that kind of openness, and is willing to make the effort.
For more information about Adas Emuno, take a look at our congregational website, http://www.adasemuno.org, and as I noted in a a recent post entitled Adas Emuno Now Blogging, our congregational blog, http://adasemuno.blogspot.com.