This post is part of a series written in recognition of Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month by members of our community with a disability highlighting each of their visions for inclusion in our community.
My name is Emily and I love to be me. Who am I? I love pasta, playing soccer, and I want to be a psychologist when I grow up. And I have learning disabilities. It’s hard for me to pay attention to things for a long time and I can’t always stick to what I am doing. School is hard for me, and I especially hate math. I can be shy around people and I can’t always say how I feel or share my feelings. Being an only child, I sometimes get bored and lonely and I wonder what it would be like if I had sisters or brothers to play with.
That’s why I love it when my Valley Friendship Circle friends like Bracha and Reena come to visit me. They are funny, cool and so much fun to be around. I can talk to them about anything. I don’t feel lonely when they come. They make me feel good about myself, like I am special and talented. When I open the door and see them I feel happy, like my sisters are home. I love them and I know that they love me and hanging out with me. We have so much fun together!
I also loved the Girls Summer Circle. It was a blast! A Friendship Circle girl came to bring me there every day. It was so much fun to be around my friends and be a part of the group. I learned the Hebrew Alef Bet and my favorite activity was the water balloon activity. I got soaked! I loved going to camp because everyone was so sweet and warm and made me feel special, and talented. I had so much fun there and I can’t wait to go back next year!
Chanie is always kind to others and she makes me feel loved. Even though she has so many children, she makes me feel like I am her daughter. I am always welcome to come to her house.
Valley Friendship Circle also made me an amazing Bat Mitzvah.
Getting ready for my Bat Mitzvah required a LOT of hairpins, but it was all worth it! I felt so pretty and nice. My Bat Mitzvah party was so much fun – I was so surprised by how big the party was! I was really happy to receive the amazing gifts from the Friendship Circle. I also really liked all the cool games we played. I was even happier to see my friends that were invited from school, and my father’s family AND my Summer Circle friends and all the volunteers.
They really know how to make me feel like I’m part of the family.
My name is Emily and I love to be me. I know I’m different, but I also know that I’m just as special as everyone else.
Emily Afshany is 12 years old, goes to school at the Help Group Village Glen and recently celebrated her bat mitzvah surrounded by her friends and family.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles believes that everyone in our community should have the opportunity to experience and celebrate our shared values, history and traditions. Making Jewish life more accessible for all is one of our top priorities, which is why we are part of a national effort to raise awareness about members of the Jewish community with disabilities. Go to www.jewishla.org/Inclusion for more information.