Nov 5 2014
After nearly two and a half years of living in the San Francisco Bay area (a temporary break from our lives in Israel), I am trying to keep my head above water. It seems that in today’s middle class America, everybody else’s kids are no less than perfect.
Until 2012, my kids grew up in an Israeli suburb. I had an enormous social network comprised of mothers and children. Our house and yard were always filled with running, jumping, screeching, laughing, and the crying of not-perfect kids. With the exception of a couple of “hysterics,” my mommy friends had no illusions about their little angels. We freely exchanged accounts of parenting challenges including school struggles as well as developmental and behavioral setbacks. By and large, we were honest and supported one another.
Today, I also have a large social network of mothers. However, with the exception of a few “eccentrics,” my mommy friends are incredibly busy convincing each other and themselves about how wonderful their offspring are. It seems that everyone is a sports star, a rock star, and a genius. Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 4 2014
This September, the Shefa School, a new pluralistic Jewish community day school on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, welcomed its first students. Founded by Ilana Ruskay-Kidd, the former director of the Saul and Carole Zabar Nursery School at the JCC in Manhattan, Shefa is the only Jewish Day School for students with language-based learning disabilities. Shefa currently has 24 students enrolled in grades 2-5 and will ultimately enroll children in grades K-8.
What does “language-based learning disabilities” mean?
Shefa addresses learning difficulties connected with language, which includes challenges in reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Reading disabilities may make it difficult to sound out (or decode) written words–often called dyslexia–or comprehend a written passage once it is decoded. Dysgraphia, or writing disability, interferes with one’s ability to express ideas in writing.
Can you give our readers an idea of how Judaic studies and the arts have enhanced the special education curriculum at Shefa? Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 11 2014
“Our entire sixth grade class is going to Six Flags for the end of the year trip.”
A familiar feeling of anxiety overwhelmed me. I wasn’t concerned about the venue. I believe that 11-year-olds deserve plain, simple fun after a year of hard work. I had no concerns for their safety. I am not an overprotective, helicopter parent.
My anxiety stemmed from the fear that the school wouldn’t agree to take my son Amit. Once again, his excitement would be quickly transformed into disappointment, frustration, and anger. Read the rest of this entry →
Apr 17 2014
This year, at our first night’s seder, my 11-year-old daughter declared her desire to find the afikomen. You see, she informed me, this would be her only chance.
Puzzled, I asked why. After all, we were heading to a friend’s home for the second night, and there would most certainly be an afikomen hunt there, as well.
(Back story: The friends we celebrate Passover with have one son, Josh, who has Cerebral Palsy. I have written about him and my children’s relationship with him before. Our families have been celebrating second seder together for the past few years.) Read the rest of this entry →
Mar 26 2014
Like just about everybody else, we here at Kveller love to get attention. But attention is that much sweeter when it means an amazing 11-year-old boy gets to share his story far and wide.
Earlier this month, we ran a story by Zimra Vigoda called “Choosing to Have My Son’s Leg Amputated was the Most Difficult Decision I’ve Ever Made.” As the title suggests, Zimra’s 11-year-old son, Amit, was born with a rare orthopedic condition whereby his right leg is chock-full of pathological fractures that don’t heal. After dealing with pain all his life, Amit decided it would be best for him to have his leg amputated, and after much consideration, Zimra agreed.
Apparently, Zimra and Amit’s story spoke to many, because since the post went live on Kveller, they’ve been making the media rounds and sharing their story on major news outlets. Read the rest of this entry →
Mar 11 2014
I awake to a familiar screech. “Mommmmmyyyy……HELP!” So begins my biweekly sleep-run to my 11-year-old’s bedside. “Mommmmmyyyy……I want to cut it off, I can’t stand it anymore…I hate my leg….make it stop,” he hollers, eyes wide open yet not quite awake. My 14-year-old son appears at the door, sleepy-eyed yet familiar with the routine. He helps bring his brother to the bathroom and wash his face until the terror subsides. “Mommy, can I please get a pill?” I give him a couple of Advil on top of the bedtime Tylenol, a cup of water, and I hope for some peace.
As a mother of four kids, aged 6 to 15, I am certainly used to making lots of decisions. As all mothers throughout the world, from the time that they were babies until today, I’ve made thousands, perhaps millions, of decisions. I decided how and what to feed them, which schools to send them to, where we will live, what extracurricular activities they will participate in, what time they need to be home, whether they can stay out late on school nights, on weekends, and countless more such everyday issues. Some decisions were easy, others more challenging, but all were quite ordinary. Read the rest of this entry →
Jan 23 2014
In our ketubah (marriage contract), that my husband and I wrote ourselves, we included the kinds of things that we wanted to foster in our home. This included “tolerance and understanding” and “respectfulness of all people.”
This has played out in many ways, but one of the most important has been how our children interact with people with disabilities in their lives. Somewhat surprisingly, my children (ages 2 and 5) have already had a lot of personal experiences with disability, even though they, themselves, do not have any.
Here are some ways that we try to help them understand the disabilities in their worlds:
1. We try to dispel the stigmas that are often associated with disabilities before our children understand that there are stigmas. Read the rest of this entry →
Feb 27 2013
As part of our month-long series dedicated to Jewish Disability Awareness Month, Jason shares what it’s like to be a parent with a disability.
Every morning I say two prayers. It isn’t normal for someone in my position to recite either one, but I’ve never been described as normal.
The first, traditionally said by addicts, is the Serenity Prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” The second, traditionally said only by women as part of the Jewish morning prayers, is, “Blessed are you Hashem, our God, king of the universe for having made me according to his will.” Together these prayers remind me–a person with cerebral palsy–to be proud of who I am, while accepting, but not diminishing, my challenges. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 28 2012
Two years ago, a blind couple in Missouri had their newborn taken away for 57 days because the social services felt the parents couldn’t possibly care for him. When I wrote about it on my blog, a reader reached out to me about her own experience growing up with a mother who had polio and raised five children from a wheelchair. I sat down and talked with that mother, Dena Gordon, who has a Master’s degree in psychology, has been a computer instructor and travel agent, and made aliyah to Israel in 1990.
Tell me about your illness and recovery.
I was born in 1943 and contracted polio when I was 2 1/2. My generation of polio survivors was lucky. We were influenced by Nurse [Elizabeth] Kenny, an Australian who revolutionized polio treatment by having patients exercise their paralyzed limbs. At first the paralysis extended up my back and affected my arms. By the time I entered school, my arms were fully functional and I could walk with crutches and braces. People were astonished by my recovery. Read the rest of this entry →