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?
I am not a superhero but I am friends with someone who is most definitely. Rabbi Jackie Redner has long been a hero to me. Outside of the many lovely things she has done for other children and young adults, she was personally responsible for guiding me through conversion to embrace the Jewish faith. Flexible, she met with me to teach me on Skype with lovely patience. By listening to me and valuing my words, she led me to preach patience and love with passion in my writing and my painting.
I was also encouraged to express myself by participating in Rabbi Jackie’s “Moses Aaron Cooperative” and by sharing my thoughts about Judaism and its teachings. I felt welcome and valued in these beautiful gatherings like never before and equal in each person’s eyes.
Rabbi Jackie, my superhero, everyone’s superhero, I thank you.
Tsipora Ohr (Sydney) Edmond, who is now 23 years old, converted to the Jewish faith at the age of 18. Over the years she has regularly contributed poetry and essays to Vista del Mar and Rabbi Jacqueline Redner’s “Moses Aaron Cooperative.” Tsipora Ohr enjoys painting, writing poetry, and spending time in nature.
Vista Del Mar’s Nes Gadol program gives Jewish youth with autism and other special needs, and their families, the opportunity to discover or rediscover the joys of Judaism and being part of a Jewish community. Each program component deepens participants’ Jewish identity, builds confidence and character, and nurtures lifelong friendships.