Inclusive Chanukah minyan for families with specialized needs

Inclusive Chanukah minyan for families with specialized needs

The Makor Care & Services Network and Congregation Rinat Yisrael held the third annual inclusive Chanukah minyan for people with specialized needs and their families and friends on December 10 at the Teaneck shul.

“So many people with specialized needs are excluded from davening with a minyan because they might appear to others to be disruptive, or because they need to walk around a bit or require a little extra attention,” Rinat congregant Dr. Stephen Glicksman, who is Makor’s director of clinical innovation, said. “Others may attend shul but haven’t been offered an aliyah since their bar mitzvah. This minyan gives everyone with and without specialized needs the opportunity to pray together in a welcoming, accessible, sensory-aware atmosphere.

“The hope is that everyone will be exposed to what individuals with different challenges are capable of, and become more inclusive all year round.”

“The inclusive Chanukah Minyan for families with specialized needs has become a beautiful part of our shul’s culture,” Rinat’s rabbi, Chaim Strauchler, said. “Rinat Yisrael welcomes everyone -— but we know that a regular service can be challenging. Chanukah is about seeing Hashem in unexpected places. Each of our lives is a miracle from Hashem. We often just need a little help to appreciate this truth. May this special davening opportunity help all of us do just a little more to appreciate the divine image in one another.”

Singer Jeff Braverman led the davening; guitarist Jonathan Rimberg joined him for Hallel. The shul was set up to give space for people with sensory and mobility issues, and the post-davening treats included gluten-free donuts and gelt, along with sugar-free and more traditional Chanukah fare.

“We really try to design this minyan so that everyone can take part in every aspect, from the kibudim”— honors — “to the treats afterwards,” Mr.
Glicksman said.

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