The Whole Community:
Welcoming in Those with Disabilities
Shabbat Across New York
In cooperation with the Jewish Federation of Greater Orange County Synagogues from throughout Orange County will be hosting very Special Sabbath Services.
All are welcome to attend. If you wish to volunteer at these special Shabbat services, or if you know of people of all abilities who we should be contacting to invite, contact Gail Oliver at gailao777@aol.com or call  the Jewish Federation at 562-7860

Temple Beth Jacob   Friday, February 1st   7:30pm
344 Gidney Ave. Newburgh  562-5516

Monroe Temple - Beth El   Friday, February 1st   7-10pm
314 North Main Street,  Monroe  783-2626

Congregation B’nai Torah  Friday, February 1st   7:00pm
2 Edgemere Avenue,  Greenwood Lake, NY   477-3716

Congregation Agudas Israel   Saturday, February 2nd   10:30 am
290 North Street, Newburgh   562-5604

Congregation Beth Hillel   Friday, February 8th   7:30 pm
20 Pine Street,  Walden  778-7374

Jewish Federation Hosts Inclusion Workshop
by Gail Oliver
The Jewish Federation of Greater Orange County hosted an Inclusion Planning Workshop held at Temple Beth Jacob on November 29th. This event was held in anticipation of a special Shabbat of Inclusion Weekend to be held at synagogues throughout Orange County from February 1st to 3rd. Synagogue members, social service personnel from a variety of agencies, and clergy joined together to formulate outreach efforts and to identify physical and attitudinal barriers that may keep individuals with disabilities from attending synagogue programs and services.

Gail Oliver, JFOGOC 2nd Vice president, and Joyce Waschitz, Federation’s Executive Director, organized the event. Oliver welcomed the participants and spoke of the efforts that must be made in order to make synagogues more inclusive and welcoming. "We have the opportunity to share ideas which will allow our synagogues to develop a more inclusive environment to persons who have disabilities," said Oliver. "All people, young and old, have times in their lives when they need others. Everyone should know that the synagogue is a place where they can go, be welcomed and supported."

Elizabeth Kadesh, executive director of Jewish Family Services, and several members of the JFS staff, detailed the various programs JFS sponsors which involve persons with developmental disabilities in Jewish religious and cultural events. Kadesh also spoke of their future plans to address the needs of Jewish children who have disabilities of all kinds and a recent grant JFS has received which will fund the new initiatives.

The special guest speaker of the event was Suzanne Schindler, the mother of a son who has autism, and the chair of Monroe Temple’s Lehiyot Shayach Committee. Schindler gave the parental perspective and spoke of her experiences in establishing educational programs and special services for those with special needs, stressing the ways we can make our synagogues more welcoming to people who have disabilities.

In a breakout session, everyone in attendance had the opportunity to brainstorm about creative and meaningful ways to develop inclusive and inspiring programming. Other options such as large print prayer books, equipment to help those who are hearing impaired, special seating options and means to transport those who are unable to drive, were also discussed.

"We applaud the efforts of the local Jewish Community to adopt practices that ensure equal participation by people with disabilities." said Babi Satzman, a manager at Independent Living, Inc. who was delighted to participate in the workshop. "The commitment by religious congregations as well as all other private and community groups at the grass roots level to the ideals of inclusion, and to taking whatever steps necessary to bring them to fruition, will surely help to provide a sound foundation for creating a barrier free-society."

For information about the upcoming "Shabbat of Inclusion" and the outreach efforts of synagogues and agencies throughout the Orange County, contact Joyce Waschitz, at 562-7860.

Mona Rieger
left to right: Rabbi Garry Loeb, Rabbi Darryl Crystal, Rabbi Joel Scchwab
left to right: Liz Kadesh, Raena Korenman, Deb Pariser