Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Monday, September 17, 2012

A tale of two Levites

According to the Bible, Levi was the third son of the patriarch Jacob, born of his wife Leah. He was the progenitor of the tribe of Levi, which was assigned the task of taking care of the Temple and tending to the priesthood.  The priests were the descendents of the Levite Aaron, the brother of Moses.  Even after the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E., people kept track of membership in the Levite and Priestly classes, and they were given special roles in synagogue life, just as many synagogue rituals were created to mirror the original Temple rituals.  The identifiers are passed from father to son. For example, I know that my father is a Kohen (Priestly lineage), while my maternal grandfather was a Levite.  My husband, however, is neither.

This story is about two little girls with Down syndrome, who coincidentally are both born into Levite families.  The first is Kalanit Levy, born in Oregon in 2007.  The other is Rachel Emuna Levin, born in Jerusalem perhaps a year later.

Kalanit was the subject of a groundbreaking legal case.  Her parents sued the obstetrical center for "wrongful birth", arguing that the center had run their prenatal tests incorrectly, and had they known that the baby had Down syndrome, they would have aborted her. The parents say that they love her dearly, and simply wanted to make sure that they had the finances to give her the resources her condition would require. The case was decided in March 2012, just a few months before Kalanit's 5th birthday, and the parents were awarded $2.9 million.  I hope this will cover the psychiatric bill when Kalanit wants to know why her parents wanted to kill her.  Or when Kalanit's brothers wonder the same thing.

Rachel, on the other hand, is the subject of a groundbreaking approach to teaching children with Down syndrome.  Her parents did not do any prenatal testing, and were shocked to learn that she had the disorder.  They took it as a sign that they had a special responsibility to this child, and this sign was confirmed for them when they discovered the Feuerstein Center, located just a few minutes away from their home.  Enjoy!

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