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October 13, 2015 | 30th Tishrei 5776

Disability Inclusion Shabbat: Program Ideas

Prepared by Becca Hornstein, Executive Director Council for Jews with Special Needs

Select one Shabbat each year and through the Shabbat service educate your congregation about various disabilities and related subjects:


  1. Invite hearing a impaired member of your Jewish community family to share his/her experiences using a sign language interpreter.  Teach the congregation some basic sign language, such as "Shabbat Shalom" or the Shema.  Teach the junior choir a song in sign language to preform at this service.
  2. Invite a person with vision impairment to share his/her experiences and distribute copies of some basic prayers in Braille as well as enlarged print.
  3. Invite a person who struggles with chronic mental illness to share his/her experiences and talk about the difficulty in entering a new situation or an environment with too much stimuli.
  4. Invite the parents or siblings of a child with autism to share his/her experiences.  Read a portion of the book "the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time" to illustrate sensory overload and the inability to process abstract concepts.
  5. Find other speakers on additional disabilities.  Use liturgy in the service that relates to special needs in general or the targeted disability for that Shabbat.  Engage the congregation as much as possible in the experience of a disability.


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