Congregation Neve Shalom Celebrating Imaginative Judaism
1240 Dautel Lane, Creve Coeur, Missouri 63146
In the Rainbow Village • (314)863-4366

St. Louis Council for Jews with Special Needs


By Betty Berger

During the July 4 weekend, the Jewish Light printed an article describing my son’s dilemma as a member of the Jewish Community. The article answered two questions in the title, “Where do they belong? Are all youth being served?” These questions spoke to the predicament of a growing number of youths with disabilities that are caught in the Jewish Community without a group to belong to at all.

Evidently, reading this article touched many people. As I spoke to the parents who contacted me, over and over I heard stories about how their children did not have a place in the Jewish Community. Many of these young people are unable to attend Jewish functions unless they are with their families. Most had never been included in Jewish youth group experiences. Some children had been included in camps in the summer months, but during the school year there were rarely activities for them to join or attend, except for babysitting services. Can you see any 17-year-old kid who wants to go out to a babysitting service? If one has a disability or not you can imagine that answer!

As parents of children with disabilities, we advocate for our children all the time in the school districts to try and get their needs met. How does one advocate within the Jewish Community to find a social circle? As our young disabled children grow into teenagers, most of the opportunities in the Jewish community practically disappear. Teens and young adults with disabilities are usually on their own. This means that they are at home with their parents, without friends or peers to hang out with them. People with disabilities want friends and peers. They want to go out and enjoy being in the community. They want a social life and have a need to belong to a group.

Fortunately, after the article in the Jewish Light appeared, a group of parents decided to take action. In August, a group of parents of children and young adults with disabilities met and devised an action plan. We formed the New St. Louis Council for Jews with Special Needs. At the third meeting the Council wrote a broad mission statement: “The St. Louis Council for Jews with Special Needs is an organization to benefit Jewish individuals with special needs and their families.” The council parent organization is now seeking to gather information from the Jewish Community at large, to find out exactly what would benefit Jewish individuals with special needs and their families. We need your insight and ideas. Therefore

You are invited to an

Sunday afternoon, November 17, 2002, from 4:00 – 5:30 PM
Congregation Neve Shalom
Located on the campus of Rainbow Village
1240 Dautel Lane, Creve Coeur
Hosted by the
St. Louis Council for Jews with Special Needs
The purpose of this public forum is to invite all people: disabled and non-disabled,
Parents, professionals, friends, families, rabbis, and teachers,
To come and answer the question:
What would you like to see happen in the Jewish Community for people with Special Needs?
Bring your ideas, creative suggestions and enthusiasm to bring our community together.

For more information, send email to Betty Berger.

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