Today is May 1, 2017 /

8100 Stevenson Rd., Baltimore, MD 21208 | Phone: 410-486-6400 |

Chizuk Amuno Congregation

Disability Awareness

At times we see ourselves less able than we are, less capable than others. Through the years I have come to associate this self-awareness with Purim. Here’s why.

In synagogue before Purim begins we read about King Saul and the prophet Samuel. In the Book of Samuel the prophet asks the king a powerful question. “Why do you see yourself as less in your eyes? You are the head of the tribes of Israel!”

Ancient Israel’s first king did not do as God commanded in battle. Apparently, King Saul didn’t see himself able to fill out the dignity and stature of his position. Imagining something less about himself, he did less than what was required of him. In response, the prophet Samuel rebukes him.

Saul’s instinct resonates with us all. Especially those of us living with disabilities, those of us challenged by our physical or emotional condition. We certainly feel there are things we can’t achieve.

Paying attention to Samuel’s question, let’s set high standards of expectation for ourselves. Sometimes it will be hard, but the truth is, if something interests you or me, if we can figure out how, you and I are fully capable of doing it. It depends on how we see ourselves in pursuit of our dreams. May we never see ourselves as less than anyone else in our own eyes.

Celebrating Purim we mask our true identities, using costume and frivolity to hide our imperfections. Rejoicing in our triumph, we know we can overcome.

Every person I know has special needs. Everyone I meet lives a reality that imposes limits on what he or she can do. We all require individual attention in the course of our lives. We cannot mask our real challenges or minimize the obstacles that must be overcome for all people to attain their proper place in society.

February is designated as Jewish Disability Awareness Month. Recognizing the needs, strengths, opportunities and challenges of people with disabilities, we seek to increase communal awareness. Every month, however, we all require each other’s respect and assistance.

After Purim, when we take off our costumes we know that being honest about ourselves and our individual needs will help us to respond to others’ very real needs.

A group of us at Chizuk Amuno, individuals with disabilities and the parents or relatives of people with disabilities, want to do what more we can to make our synagogue community accessible and welcoming.

After Purim, I encourage you to tell us what your needs are and what respect and assistance our community can provide.