Before anyone worries – it’s just been a very busy couple of weeks here, on this side of the screen. (All the better reason, if you don’t follow the Facebook page or the Twitter account, to do so – I’ve not been wholly quiet while I’ve been gone.) . But I’m going to try, now that things are calming down offline, to get back to a regular cadence and…
What? What have we been up to? Oh!
For starters, we took in an inclusive religious service last weekend, in advance of Purim.
Now, the Monster has been back in Hebrew School for a few weeks – they found a teacher who’s willing to take over the class (with only 3 kids in it now) and he’s getting back into the swing of things. I’m starting to think about what I’d like them to work on most, since we’re coming up fast on when we have to reserve a date for his Bar Mitzvah, but one step at a time, please.
Earlier this year, I heard about Kol Echad, an inclusive Shabbat experience here in the City of Firsts. Now… I’ve taken the Monster with me to shul, but I don’t know that he gets a lot out of it. He doesn’t read Hebrew (he doesn’t really read English well either), and when he accompanies me, he’s usually content to stay in the pew while I go up to do my stint as a reader or gabbai. Kol Echad, though, is an adaptive service that is a cooperative effort of a number of congregations here, and rotates from shul to shul through the year. Unfortunately, to date, most of those weekends have lined up with other things, so we’ve not been able to go. But this past weekend, with a special date arranged for an early Purim celebration, we managed to wriggle out of our other obligations and get ourselves in gear to get to the service.
The service is, as you might imagine, fairly light compared to a regular Shabbat morning service. (It has to find common ground between multiple congregations of varying observance, for starters, and it’s the question of trying to find something that’s on the children’s level.) . There was a good deal of singing and some talking about the upcoming holiday, with good interactive segments to keep the children engaged by answering questions. For those children (and adults) who needed it, there was room to roam around, and a basket of fidgets up at the front. The service was lightly attended and separated from the rest of the congregation, so the sensory level was not overwhelming to those who find it stressful. And at the end, the participants were welcomed into the kiddush with the rest of the congregation.
My impression is that this is a very good thing for getting children with special needs to feel more involved in the faith – it comes down certainly to a level that speaks more to the Monster and where he is, in terms of his knowledge and his strengths (music). The duration was just right to keep his attention without him getting anxious/giggly/fussy, and while I’d like to see perhaps more built on and around it, this is the first year that they’ve been running the program. I’ve full faith that it’ll evolve and grow as more people know about it and take advantage of the availability.
There’s another Kol Echad service at Oheb Shalom on Saturday morning – we won’t be there because the kids already had plans – but the next one after that is in May at Beth Israel, and we should be there. Go wander by their homepage and take a look, and if you’re local, maybe you’ll find something that is useful to you too.
And, for those who celebrate tomorrow night, chag sameach. 🙂