Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

31 for 21 - Summer Camp Inclusion

Many Jewish organizations have been slow to take up the cause of special needs inclusion, especially intellectual/developmental special needs.  Jewish culture places a high value on intellectual achievement, and seems to regard intellectual disability as a failing, either on the part of the child, or his/her parents. 

As this article points out in the introduction, this is antithetical to Jewish liturgy.  Moses himself had a speech impediment, and needed Aaron's assistance to take his prophetic message to the Pharaoh, as well as to the Jewish people.  If anything, this is a model of inclusion at work: Moses was provided with the necessary accommodations which allowed his leadership to shine.

As a counselor at the Jewish summer camp Camp Ramah, the author of the article discovered that sharing each camper's challenges was empowering for all, as both typical and disabled campers realized that we are not defined or limited by our challenges.  This echoes the insight that the mom in yesterday's post made when talking with her children.  We all have our unique strengths and challenges.  Society arbitrarily labels some of these "disabilities", but these are artificial constructs, not facts of reality.  The reality, which we aspire to see reflected in society, is that our value is in our common humanity and in the way we treat each other.

1 comment:

  1. I'm not sure that I would go so far as to say that society *arbitrarily* labels some of these "disabilities". (The labels do seem arbitrary, if we compare today's perceived "disabilities" with what would have been considered such in the past.)

    Rather, I'd say that what we call "disability" is a fluid concept, depending on -- among other things -- the expectations we have of what an average person can do (and should be able to do), and the technology available to us to overcome obstacles. The two are interrelated.

    For example, people with prosthetic arms and legs can do things undreamed of a century ago. New technology under development will take us even farther; perhaps in a century, there will be no perceptible difference between a person born with legs and a person born without them, just as today there's no functional difference, in most cases, between someone with 20/20 vision and someone dependent on contact lenses.


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