Rabbi Pitkowsky’s meaningful d’var torah on May 11 dealt with the increasing quest for perfection in today’s modern world. He pointed out that we, God’s creatures, are less than perfect. He encourages “dramatic inclusion” of all people who wish to attend holy spaces, with sensitivity extended to people who are “differently-abled.” Handicap accessibility is acknowledged and mention made of those who are vision- and hearing-impaired.
As one of the near 40 million people who fall into the last category, I am hopeful that our Jewish community may seek to better understand our needs and reach out even more to adapt our places of worship into functional spaces for those of us who wish to participate more fully.
Various forms of assistive listening devices are offered in some synagogues. Often they’re effective; often they aren’t. More often it proves difficult to locate the device and discover how to use it.
A meaningful step forward would be for regional organizations, such as federations or rabbinical groups, to add this consideration to their agendas. Steps can be taken to awaken awareness of people who are limited by invisible “imperfections” and who would enjoy participating more deeply in Jewish life. Suggestions for financial support could be researched and specific guidance provided to congregations that seek to move ahead to insure that all congregants and guests are more effectively included in their worship and participatory events.
Rabbi Pitkowsky’s d’var Torah might well serve as an inspiration to further consideration of the meaningful teachings of our Jewish tradition.