Accommodations Make Religious Milestones Possible Despite Special Needs
For Jewish tweens with special needs the right of passage that is the bar or bat mitzvah is no longer out of reach.
Educational organizations and synagogues across the country are working with families to make the milestone possible no matter what a child’s ability level is.
The bar mitzvah (or bat mitzvah, for a girl) is celebrated at the age of 13 when a Jewish child assumes the religious responsibilities of an adult. Traditionally, a bar mitzvah marks the first time a child is called to the Torah, but for many young people today a bar mitzvah means leading much of the prayer service and having a party to celebrate the occasion.
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When the child has special needs, the key is to identify their ability level and their family’s expectations, experts say. Then, the service can be tailored accordingly. At the Keshet Sunday School program in Chicago, for example, they’ve helped non-verbal students use picture cards to say prayers. Another student conducted the service in song.
In other cases, students have used picture books to follow the service and have been tutored in how to say the blessings using transliterated English, reports the Chicago Tribune. To read more click here.