We are Jews, the ones who learn and the ones who don’t, the ones who are attractive and the ones who are not, the ones who observe and the ones who are secular. I assume that we speak here of Jewish education to keep the Orthodox world pure of the secular world and the misfits, to be blunt. We speak of two issues in one breath. Which Jewish and why? How “limited” and can we teach them?
A Jewish education is appreciated by many types and divisions of Jews, even those without the right brand of kashrut. Yet it is prohibitive financially (especially for those with disabilities) and the private and general Jewish educational system does not like children who are different in any way. They do not believe in “inclusion.” It’s their loss and nothing for our people to be proud of.
Why can’t yeshivot also include the learning disabled and physically disabled? Must our kids retreat to public schools where there is a system for exactly these problems?
It is better for all of us to have our worlds co-mingle culturally, religiously, and racially. It is healthier mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. Nothing depresses me more than repressed children who are too good to be true, the overly educated children who do not get dirty or play rough and tumble, and a Jewish child who for unknown reasons is afraid to enter a secular Jew’s home. I pity the quiet kids who will not speak to anyone who does not belong to their synagogue.
It is they who are handicapped and disabled.
We have become obsessed with wanting everyone to be the same, behave the same, and learn the same. And deep down, we are still ashamed to say that our child is not terribly smart, is limited in some way, or emotionally unable to connect with others. We still need to euphemize all of the terminology, which only shows how imperfect all of us really are and how we long to be vanilla when truly we are covered in rainbow sprinkles.