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Helpful ideas and resources

The experience of each family has garnered many successful ideas for overcoming many obstacles. Here is a list of some of those light bulb moments for you to consider.

Do you have an idea (or two) to share?

A comfortable place
Find the most comfortable place for the ceremony such as your home, a familiar sanctuary, or a ‘sanctuary’ of natural beauty.

A ramp to the bimah
Have a ramp for easier access to the bimah.

Active seating
Use a wedge-shaped seat cushion for soothing rocking and increased focus.

Be an ally
Be an ally to people with disabilities.

Bimah buddies
Invite a trusted companion to serve as ‘bimah buddy’ for comfort and guidance during the ceremony.

Braille prayer books and Torah scroll
Use braille prayer books and Torah scroll.

D’var Torah buddies
Consider a shared d’var Torah format such as a Q&A interview format.

Hearing assistance
Provide assistive listening devices such as headphones and/or provide an FM radio frequency system.

Lapel microphone
Use a lapel microphone instead of a stationary microphone.

Large print prayer books
Use large print prayer books.

Printed copies
Provide print copies of parts of the ceremony and celebration to promote clarity and understanding.

Reach out to local clergy
Reach out to area clergy and Hebrew school teachers.

Reach out to local experts
Reach out to special education teachers, social workers, and therapists.

Respite helper
Enlist a respite helper to provide occasional trained supervision.

Seating
Create accessible seating for assistive mobility equipment and accompanying individuals.

Sign language
Provide sign language interpretation.

Talents and interests
Utilize the child’s talents and interests.

Teaching and learning tools
Use teaching and learning tools such as picture symbols and flash cards. Check out the b’nai mitzvah resources available online from Gateways.

Tool bag
Pack a bag with favorite fidget toys, snacks, books.

Torah reading
Customize the Torah reading table to lower and tilt enabling someone who cannot stand to lead prayers and/or read from the Torah.

Torah scrolls
Customize the ark with lower shelves that slide out for a wheelchair user to grasp and lift the Torah scrolls.

Ushers
Assign ushers to be welcoming and helpful.

Video recordings
Prerecord songs, prayers, and/or recitations in anticipation of nerves in the moment.

Happily, more and more resources have become available to support a more inclusive Jewish community. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your local Jewish Family Services, Jewish Federation, and/or congregation leadership to address your special b’nai mitzvah needs. Your child’s special education support system, such as teachers and therapists, may also be helpful. Here is a list of dedicated experts for you to consider.

Do you have a resource (or two) to share?

Disabilities Inclusion Learning Center
The Union for Reform Judaism provides access to their web-based Disabilities Inclusion Learning Center, including preparation for b’nai mitzvah.

Friendship Circle
Friendship Circle works individually with families to understand and address their specific needs and concerns related to each child’s disability.

Jewish Family Services (JFS)
The Jewish Federation advocate for legislation that protects and enhances life for people with disabilities. And across North America, Federation-supported programs are creating a more inclusive environment for people with disabilities and their families within the Jewish community, with a focus on children with special needs.

Jewish Federations of North America
The Jewish Federation advocate for legislation that protects and enhances life for people with disabilities. And across North America, Federation-supported programs are creating a more inclusive environment for people with disabilities and their families within the Jewish community, with a focus on children with special needs.

Jewish Gateways
Gateways provides specialized Jewish education programs, including the B’nei Mitzvah Academy program.

Matan
Matan trains Jewish community leaders to meet the needs of people with disabilities and their families. Matan provides downloadable Jewish special education resources online at no cost.

Contact us

How can we help?

Share Stories

We’d love to connect with you and share your story along with highlights of your experience. Sharing inspires others to say YES to participation in a more inclusive Jewish community.

Share Resources

What resources have been most helpful to you? Sharing these resources helps make the b’nai mitzvah experience less difficult for the next family.

Share Ideas

What light bulb moments did you have along the way? Sharing these creative problem-solving ideas helps make the b’nai mitzvah experience less difficult for the next family.