Twenty-three years ago, Lisa Szilagyi gave birth to her first child, Emily, who was diagnosed with tuberous sclerosis, a genetic disease that causes tumors to grow on vital organs. It resulted in severe epilepsy and essentially made Emily nonverbal.
Laughing with a friend, a tall blonde visibly groped at her surroundings while ascending a flight of stairs at a posh Los Angeles eatery. Witnessing the awkward display, a fellow patron cast a disapproving glance and asked, “Liquid lunch?”
February is Jewish Disability Awareness Month. In thinking about Judaism and disability, most might start with the teaching in Leviticus: “Do not curse the deaf nor put a stumbling block before the blind.”
“Mommy, can I have some water?” asked Joshua Goldenberg, a 7-year-old with a beautiful mane of curls and a gap-tooth smile. His mother, Christie, handed him a bottle. “How do you know it’s water?” he asked. “Because it says so on the label,” she answered.
Strolling among the young children playing on ELIYA's vibrant and colorful campus in Petah Tikva, just outside Tel Aviv, feels, for an instant, like a visit to any well-run preschool. But ELIYA is that and more -- a preschool for blind and visually impaired children designed to assist their growth and development through programs ranging from classroom teaching to hydrotherapy.
Every seder presents its own challenges, whether it's in deciding which haggadah to use or how much wine to add to the haroset. But for families of people with special needs, the usual frenetic Passover planning can go into overdrive as they search for ways to make the seder meaningful for all their loved ones.