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Creating a Space for Everyone

This blog is part of a series written in recognition of Inclusion Awareness Month by members of our community with a disability highlighting each of their visions for inclusion in our community. The following is a first-person snapshot of Michael’s Life, who thrives from multiple opportunities to participate in communal life:

On Sunday I go to OurSpace LA Shaare Tikva class at Valley Beth Shalom. I love to go to services there. We sing prayers and special thanks for the teachers. This week we learned about our souls and talked about things that are good about us. We put our pictures in the circles. Then we wrote words of things that are important to me like “friends” and the show we are going to and “community”. After that we did music with Julie. I will read Megillah for OurSpace for Purim.

After I went to OurSpace, I met people who went to Ramah so I decided to try too. First I was homesick there, but then I had a very fun time. T’fillah is my most fun time at Ramah, just like at OurSpace. I liked the tents: my number was 31. I liked the cooking chug with Marcy. We made recipes from her. After chug was Tarbut. I liked that too.

I also go to Temple Israel of Hollywood Religious School on Sunday for confirmation. I learn about tikun olam and God with Jeff (Bernhardt). (There is an OurSpace Kolot Tikva program at Temple Aliyah and we have started one at TIOH). I like to sing at Kolot Tikva on Sundays with Ari and Hazzan Stein at Temple Aliyah. I like the Hebrew songs. I like to give recitals.

I go to the Bridgeport School and have friends who go to OurSpace at school too, like Danny and Kenny (Kip). After school on Mondays I go to gymnastics. I am learning a floor routine because I like the Olympics. I want to learn to do a cartwheel.</p?

On Tuesdays I go to tutoring with Jeff at TIOH. I have been going since before my bar mitzvah. I like to do prayers with him for every holiday.

On Thursdays I have yoga with DM. We also go on CBI’s at school (field trips/community based instruction: trips to the grocery store, Subway etc.).

On Fridays I have a new job: I greet people for Shabbat at Temple Israel. I feel very proud of that job.

Michael Rosenbaum is a 16 year old with Down Syndrome. He is participating in OurSpace LA for the second year, and went to Camp Ramah for the first time last summer for a month. 

Jewish Federation Los Angeles believes that everyone in our community should have the opportunity to experience and celebrate our shared values, history and traditions. Making Jewish life more accessible for all is one of our top priorities, which is why we are part of a national effort to raise awareness about members of the Jewish community with disabilities. Go to www.jewishla.org/Inclusion for more information.

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