Leading Seventh Graders to Do the Right Thing
Paula is an alumna of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship, Class XI, and has served as rabbi at the Orangetown Jewish Center in Orangeburg, New York since ordination from JTS in 2004. Paula can be reached at: email@example.com.
When Jordan and I began his bar mitzvah lessons, I took a Torah from the ark, placed it into Jordan’s arms and asked him to repeat after me, “This is MY Torah.” I believe with all my soul that the Torah belongs to Jordan and every other Jewish person with disabilities. After months of trying but joyous work together, Jordan became a bar mitzvah. He read a speech, chanted Sh’ma, took an aliya and leyned four verses of Torah perfectly. The congregation kvelled. My defining moment occurred when it was time for Jordan to lead Ashrei. I invited “all of his friends and classmates from seventh grade” to join him on the bima. Not one child was missing that Shabbat. Jordan was surrounded by peers. I knew that my talks with the class about how important this day would be for all of us had found ready ears.