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October 6, 2015 | 23rd Tishrei 5776
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Special Needs

The Union for Reform Judaism is committed to improving and supporting learning opportunities for all Jews. Our goal is to make education available to anyone who wishes to learn. Any person with a mental, physical or other disability is entitled to an education.

Dear Shana

Special Needs

"Dear Shana" is a question and answer forum where you may find answers to your questions about working with people with disabilities from our expert consultant on people with disabilities, Dr. Shana Erenberg. Dr. Erenberg has provided answers to many questions posted here by synagogue educators.

Converting Mitkadem to Braille
We have a third grader who has been blind since he was nine months old and is fluent in English language Braille. The school is introducing Hebrew with the Mitkadem curriculum. Any ideas on how we could convert the curriculum into Braille so he can read it?

Learning Resources for the Blind
I am writing this for someone who is converting at a Reform congregation. She is 41 years old and has multiple disabilities, including pseudotumor
cerebri, which has taken a lot of her sight away from her.
She wants to know if there is somewhere she can get a “talking Torah”...

Using Technology to Help Autistic Students Communicate
We have a family in the congregation with a 9 year-old autistic son. The public school has him using a Vantage machine...

Bar/Bat Mitzvah Tutoring and Students with Auditory Processing Difficulties
I tutor students in chanting and reading their b’nai mitzvah portions, and I have some questions about students with auditory processing problems... 

Autistic Student in a Religious School Environment
I have a child with autism in the school. I understand that these children need routines and consistency very much, but our schedule changes all the time... 

Parent Communication
Our school is committed to giving every child a Jewish education and making them a welcome and important part of our synagogue community. However, I find my biggest frustration is communicating this to parents and having them cooperate by sharing information about their child with the school... 

Special Needs Assistants and Synagogue Liability
We have a family that recently joined our congregation with a special needs student. They are asking for a one on one assistant to be with their son. We would like to help the family and I have a college student willing to assist, but I am concerned about liability and the need for a policy. Can you help?

Special Needs Bar Mitzvah
Next year a child with high functioning autism is supposed to celebrate a bar mitzvah. I have taught him how to read Hebrew, but I need to prepare him for "something" for his bar mitzvah... 

Early Childhood Intervention
I have a new child in my early childhood program whom I think would benefit from professional observation and potentially early intervention services...

*Shana Erenberg, Ph.D.received her doctorate from Northwestern University. For 20 years, she served as the founding director of the Keshet Sunday School for students with disabilities in Northbrook, IL and is currently the Chairman of the Department of Education at Hebrew Theological College in Chicago. She also has a private practice and serves as a consultant.


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