SHELLY CHRISTENSEN — a pioneering expert on disabilities inclusion in faith communities — will be the guide for “Hineni: Here I Am — Autism, Jewish Education, and Inclusion,” a weekend of educational programs hosted by Temple Beth El-Mekor Chayim in Cranford, Friday-Sunday,
Christensen will offer guidance through a Jewish lens about increasing community inclusion for people with disabilities and mental health conditions.
Events will include Friday evening services at 6:15 followed by a dairy dinner, with the theme “What Judaism Tells Us.” Saturday services begin at 9:30 a.m. with readings and prayers to reflect the temple’s inclusion mission. A kiddush Lunch and Learn will follow with the theme “Hineni: Educating Children on the Autism Spectrum.” Havdalah services, at 5:30 p.m., will celebrate the togetherness of inclusion.
Two community forums will be held Sunday: “The Journey to Hope: How Parents Adapt to Raising a Child with a Disability,” will be at breakfast, 9:30-11:45 a.m., and “From Longing to Belonging: The Practical Keys to Create the Structure of Inclusion” will be held 2-4 p.m.
Christensen is the author most recently of “From Longing to Belonging: A Practical Guide to Including People with Disabilities and Mental Health Conditions in Your Faith Community” (2019).
This program — which has received support from the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ’s Greater MetroWest ABLE, the Gary Aidekman Family Foundation, and the Sylvia and Seymour Rubenstein Special Needs Endowment Fund — is open to the entire Jewish community. There is no charge, but RSVPs are requested by Feb. 2 for the Friday dinner and kiddush lunch; contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 908-276-9231 or visit tbemc.org.