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A Bar Mitzvah Boy, Anne Frank, and Jewish Disabilities Awareness Month

Dori Frumin Kirshner

Written by Dori Frumin Kirshner, Executive Director, Matan

Recently, a young man in my community, Sam Singer, became a Bar Mitzvah and used his rite of passage to teach all of us an invaluable lesson.

Everyone who entered the sanctuary on Saturday morning was invited to affix a sticky badge to their clothes that read: ALLR= (“all are equal”).  Each badge had three simple instructions embroidered around the clever logo: “Don’t Stare, Don’t Judge, Don’t Turn Away.”

Sam has a sister, Rebecca, with disabilities who is a welcome and regular member of the congregation.

Sam offered his Bar Mitzvah address with wisdom and poignancy explaining that by embracing his sister, we are actually embracing his parents and all of those who love her.  He reminded us that this is what we are commanded to do and in an effort to commute his words into action, he implored us to keep the badges and do the three simple steps that can have a profound impact…Don’t Stare, Don’t Judge, Don’t Turn Away.  At its core, simply seeing the humanity in each person is a significant starting point.

Anne Frank wrote: “How wonderful it is that nobody need to wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”  With people like Sam to pave the way, we someday won’t have to have a month devoted to raising awareness about the issue of special needs in the Jewish community; we will know how to embrace and support all of our members.  In the meantime, let us all take a lesson from Sam during this month – try to do something each day that demonstrates that we are indeed wearing our badges and are poised to embrace all members of our community.

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