Our daughter Chaya just turned 18. We didn’t celebrate. And, sadly, she didn’t protest. Chaya is blind, epileptic, wheelchair-bound and profoundly disabled, both cognitively and physically. Her birthdays are not happy milestones. With each one, the gap between her chronological and functional ages grows. Raising a child like Chaya is never easy or joyful wherever you live, but in Israel it is especially challenging.
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.”