By Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer, Director, Whole Community Inclusion
Last August, Jewish Learning Venture’s Whole Community Inclusion (WCI) program held its first-ever training for B’nei Mitzvah tutors on how to make modifications and accommodations for students of all abilities. The inspiration for creating this training is our realization that more and more synagogues are welcoming and providing accommodations for students who have learning, physical and/or developmental disabilities in their education programs. However, when these children are ready to prepare for becoming B’nei Mitzvah, tutors and clergy do not always have the skills they need to address learning challenges and create appropriate modifications.
One of the attendees of last August’s session was Jewish inclusion advocate Shelley Cohen, who directs New York’s Jewish Inclusion project. This year, Shelley has been working with RespectabilityUSA to lead training for a cohort of six synagogues in the New York area through UJA-Federation of New York. Professionals in this cohort have participated in trainings through the year focusing on the systemic issues of how to welcome and support people with disabilities and their families into synagogue life.
We were honored that Shelley invited us to share our training with professionals from this cohort. On May 5th, WCI Consultant Rabbi Michelle Greenfield and I offered a one-day version of our training, focusing on the tools needed to make accomodations and modfications for young people with learning and cognitive disabilities.
“All educators, cantors and rabbis need to have this training,” one participant wrote in her evaluation.
To that end, we invite professionals to register for our second Philadelphia training, which will take place at Jewish Learning Venture on June 14th and 15th.