Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Separateness and Holiness

The Shabbat version of the Amidah prayer highlights the notion of  Holiness as Separateness.  The weekday version of the Kedusha (Holiness) blessing also addresses this theme, but includes people in it as well:

You are Holy, and Your name is Holy, and the Holy ones will praise You, Selah!
Who are the Holy ones? Who are the people who we separate from? The people who are...different?  Where does holiness come in there?  Are these the Holy ones who will praise G*d?

In ancient times, some Jewish people would take on Nazirite vows, separating themselves from society in order to experience holiness.  Monks and nuns in various religions do the same thing.  What if the separation is imposed from without?  Is holiness to be found in that separation as well?

Most people are uncomfortable around those who are different, especially when the difference is visible, as in the case of racial differences or culturally distinct attire.  People with obvious disabilities are often shunned, without having the social capital of other "different" groups to bridge the gaps.  In this country, we have made tremendous progress in improving the social capital of people with disabilities, as we have done for other minorities.  In many other countries, however, the separateness is legitimized and institutionalized (pun intended). 

Reclaiming these children is a bold statement to the worldview that rejected them:  To the extent they are separated, so shall they be sanctified!  The more they are pushed away, the more G*d draws them near.


If separation indeed sanctifies, then this boy is nearly a saint:

He has been isolated in his crib for over 15 years. By this time next year, if not adopted, he will be isolated forever in a mental institution like these boys:

....for the rest of his life.

Here he is, fitting in a caretaker's lap:

My 2-year-old is probably bigger than he is.

Will he be pushed away one final time, or will he be reclaimed, loved, and sanctified?

Kedoshim be-khol yom yehalelukha, Selah!

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