Shavuot dedicated to autism awareness

May 26, 2019 by Community newsdesk
Read on for article

On the eve of the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, Sydney’s North Shore Temple Emanuel (NSTE) in Chatswood will devote the festival to raising awareness about Autism Spectrum Disorder and learning how faith communities can best support members on the autism spectrum and their families.  

Marissa Ely

The program, called “We All Stood At Sinai – A Vision of Inclusion,” features special guest speaker Marissa Ely who has a long time affiliation with the Jewish community and was diagnosed as an adult with Level 1 Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  Following her speech, a panel discussion of family members of people on the autism spectrum will be moderated by Rabbi Nicole Roberts, Senior Rabbi of the synagogue.

Traditionally an evening of study to celebrate the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, the event, referred to as a tikkun leil Shavuot, will also feature Jewish learning, the chanting of the 10 Commandments, an adapted festival service, and – in keeping with the holiday’s custom of serving dairy foods – NSTE’s 3rd annual cheesecake competition, with “tasting breaks” throughout the evening.

About the evening, Rabbi Roberts says, “All are welcome—from within and beyond NSTE—to come learn how to create more welcoming, inclusive spaces of worship and community.  The theme of the evening is based on an incredibly inclusive moment in the Torah, when everyone gathered around Mount Sinai to experience Revelation.  It should be an eye-opening evening for us all—challenging and inspiring.”

The evening is part of NSTE’s ongoing efforts to reach out to, welcome, and serve those often on the margins of Jewish life.  In 2017 and 2018, those efforts included the formation of an Inclusion and Diversity Task Force, improvement of physical accessibility with the addition of a lift, an “Expanding the Conversation” speakers series on topics of diversity and inclusion, acquisition of large print and lightweight prayer books and worship materials, the synagogue’s inaugural LGBT+ Pride Shabbat, the bat mitzvah of a teenager with Down syndrome, and liturgical moments in High Holy Day services designed to widen participation.

“Our Progressive movement has always seen ‘keeping people in the fold’ as a key part of its purpose and mission,” says Rabbi Roberts.  “We are doing what we can to help achieve this ideal.”

Saturday 8 June, 6pm

Speak Your Mind

Comments received without a full name will not be considered
Email addresses are NEVER published! All comments are moderated. J-Wire will publish considered comments by people who provide a real name and email address. Comments that are abusive, rude, defamatory or which contain offensive language will not be published

Got something to say about this?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.