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Enhancing the diversity of our congregation

02/12/2020 12:25:48 PM


Michelle Alkon

This February, Temple Shalom is celebrating JDAAIM: Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion Month in a very special way, with thanks and recognition of a newly remodeled sacred space that is warm, welcoming, beautiful and accessible.
In her High Holy Days remarks, Rabbi Berry quoted words of Midrash Shemot Rabbah. “For how long must I travel without a home?” The Torah answers: “make for Me a sanctuary’ so that I need not be on the outside.” And noted that “We decided to be the ancestors who ensured anyone who wanted to could enter this space.”
The renovated space has so many wonderful features, large and obvious and small and subtle so that we can make that promise:
• A new ramp to the
bima so that everyone can ascend to read from the Torah or bless a Bar Mitzvah
• A livestream of services and events so that everyone can join in even if they cannot be in the Sanctuary
• Electronic screens, including the Torah cam, so that anyone can see exactly where we are in the service and not have to hold a book
• Lighting that can be brightened for low vision and lowered to set the mood
• A sound system that is clear and crisp and available hearing assistive devices for those who need
• Flexible seating that can accommodate wheelchair access throughout the Sanctuary
• Entrances with electronic doors that are fully accessible for people with mobility aids and a mezuzah low enough for everyone to reach
• Seating in the entrances for congregants who need a place to take off their coats
• An all-gender bathroom on the sanctuary level that can accommodate a wheelchair or a companion
Look around! The choices that we made have enhanced the diversity in our congregation and reinforced the message that we welcome everyone to Temple Shalom. Our sacred spaces further reflect our commitment to the philosophy of inclusion, demonstrated in our educational programming and our spiritual and community practices.
Michelle Alkon is a Temple member and President of Gateways: Access to Jewish Education

Wed, August 12 2020 22 Av 5780