Thursday, March 11, 2010
Since there is so little time for rabbis to do everything, the conference coordinators scheduled programs back to back so that we can do everything as usual! Tuesday morning, all the committee meetings were held at 7am! One of them was the CCAR Committee on Disability Awareness and Inclusion. The Chair of this Committee is Rabbi Lynne Landsberg who has an incredible story. She was in a very bad car accident and was left with a brain injury that caused her to walk with a cane and with limited short-term memory however this did not stop her from becoming a strong vocal advocate for those with special needs within in the Jewish community. Lynne invited me to be the speaker for this meeting and I graciously accepted this honor. There were about 15 rabbis who attended this committee because inclusion is on their agenda within their own synagogues. I was challenged to think of what to say that they have not already heard. Being in the rabbinate, we tend to believe that we are problem solvers. I explained to the group that we will not be able to solve all the problems or issues related to inclusion however we can change the language or actions that we may use on a daily basis. The most important action that a rabbi or synagogue leader can do is to acknowledge the family with special needs once they enter our sanctuary. Just to welcome and greet them, neighbors or strangers can take us a long way. It is about human touch and reaching out. This is so true especially with families that have special needs. My colleagues greatly agreed and know that it takes one step at a time to make a difference in their congregants’ lives.