Thursday, April 1, 2010
Once a month, on the first Saturday afternoon at 2 PM, Congregation Adas Emuno holds a Shabbat Meyuchad service that has been designed to be especially appealing and welcoming for people with developmental disabilities and their families. The service is open to all, of course, and can be appreciated by and meaningful for everyone. But it is also meant to be especially welcoming and comfortable for families and individuals touched by autism, and other forms of disabilities.
The service is called Shabbat Meyuchad because it is an afternoon service, and as Sabbath services go, it is brief, and highly musical. The idea for the service came after our spiritual leader, Cantor Shapiro, worked with my daughter Sarah, who has moderate autism, to give her an uniquely-tailored Bat Mitzvah ceremony a year ago. And this made for a great story for our local cable news program, as you can see from the video below.
A brief note: 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 was not able to get it right when she said "Adas Emuno" (should be ah-Dahss eh-Moon-oh), "Meyuchad" (should be may-Yoo-chahd), and even "Shabbat" (should be shah-Baht)! And their use of the phrase, "mentally challenged," in reference to individuals with developmental disabilities is inappropriate.
Be that as it may, it certainly was a worthwhile topic for a news report:
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 and my family that our congregation has that kind of openness, and is willing to make the effort.
The next Shabbat Meyuchad service is this Saturday, all are welcome to join us!