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The definition of inclusivity

02/06/2019 02:21:42 PM


Sara Resnick

May 26, 2018 is a day I remember with the fondest memories. However, I spent two years stressing about Ryan’s Bat Mitzvah and that impending date. We knew Ryan could not sit through a conventional Shabbat morning service, much less lead a congregation in a “typical way.” How were we going to commemorate Ryan becoming a Bat Mitzvah? Should we go to Israel? Have a small meeting of family in the Rabbi’s office? Skip it all together?
No. We wanted Ryan to have the experience of becoming a Bat Mitzvah in the synagogue she knows with the community in which she belongs. With the support of the teachers, staff and clergy at Temple Shalom, we set out to make Ryan’s Bat Mitzvah an amazing day.
One of the first challenges we took on was figuring out what we wanted the service to include. It was extremely important to me that Ryan be called to the Torah for an aliyah. Ryan’s reading is limited, so to help her learn the blessing, we used pictures that could be associated with the words. Once she mastered the Torah blessings, we could introduce other aspects of the service that Ryan could do with confidence.
Ryan led a beautiful 45-minute Shabbat morning service. Rabbi Berry stood with Ryan, and together, they included the congregation in Ryan’s experience. We had special siddurim printed and included the picture versions of the blessings, just as Ryan was reading them from her siddur. One of the most meaningful moments was watching from the bimah as the entire congregation followed as Ryan and Rabbi Berry taught the Shema in sign language.
This Bat Mitzvah was one of a kind. Family, friends and the community told us how Ryan’s Bat Mitzvah was so meaningful and unlike anything they had experienced. With the guidance of the Temple Shalom clergy and the amazing teaching staff we all experienced a beautiful service that was truly the definition of inclusivity.
Sara Resnick is a member of Temple Shalom. February marks Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion Month.

Fri, July 19 2019 16 Tammuz 5779