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Inclusion: No Jewish Hero is Perfect

February is Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month. As part of our Federation’s commitment to inclusion, every week this month we will feature a blog written by either a member of our community with a disability or their parent, or by a professional working with one of our partner organizations that serves people with special needs.

Bloggers were asked to answer one of the following questions: What is your superpower that helps you gain strength and confidence in the Jewish community? Who has made you feel like a superhero and included in the Jewish community, and how?

One of the most beautiful aspects of Judaism is that the Torah portrays none of our heroes as perfect. Moses had difficulty speaking, Joseph had difficulty getting along with others, Isaac couldn’t see… At Sinai Temple’s Beit Bracha program we believe our students are Torah heroes too! We aim to help all Jewish children achieve a Jewish education. Several of our students have family members, cousins, and siblings that are a part of the community, whether it is through the day school, attending the religious school or being long-time members. Beit Bracha allows our students to join their friends and family members in a Jewish experience that they will hold on to for the rest of their lives. Our students are truly superheroes. They overcome obstacles and hurdles that stand in their way. They have sidekicks and allies to help them stand on top and be thoughtful, insightful members of our religious school. They are super and we are super lucky to have them in our community.

Our first superhero I would like to share with you is a second-grade boy named Jacob. His family has been a part of the Sinai Temple community for several years and worked with Beit Bracha to find Jacob a spot in the religious school. Jacob is very smart and has learned almost all of his Hebrew letters. He has many friends in his Sunday School classroom that he knows from his school and together they share this special bond. Jacob says, “I have the superpower of listening. I learn a lot and gain new information from being a good listener.” He credits his teacher Morah Debbie for helping him soar and for “teaching me so many new things.”

The second student we would like to spotlight is a super-heroine in third grade named Blair. Blair has the amazing superpower of helping others. She said, “I love to help my grandma when she needs it.” Blair knows the commandment about respecting her mother and father and is smart enough to know that it also applies to her grandparents as well. She loves coming to religious school and thanks her teacher Morah Lida for helping her feel “confident” and giving her “positive energy.”

Just as we learn so much Torah though the lives of Isaac, Joseph, and Moses, so too do we learn the most important aspects of life though our students at Beit Bracha.

Blair Lebovitz is currently serving as the Director of the Beit Bracha program at Sinai Temple. She has an extensive background in education, and has worked in public schools, private schools, and university settings. In addition to working with Beit Bracha, Blair is a practicing Educational Therapist.

Beit Bracha offers religious school, b’nai mitzvah and high school programs for Jewish children with special needs at Sinai Temple. Beit Bracha programs promote inclusion and provide a Jewish education for any Jewish child with special needs, no matter their ability.

For more information about Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month, please contact Miriam Maya, Director, Caring for Jews in Need, at (323) 761-8081 or MMaya@JewishLA.org.

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