“Good Shabbos to You!” Enjoying a rich Jewish life as a disabled senior involves family and community.

Written by Deborah Scheinberg on . Posted in Features

In 1961, the chances of a cognitively disabled young man having a bar mitzvah were slim to none. Daniel Scheinberg, son of Samuel and Helen Scheinberg of College Park, Maryland, was fortunate to have parents who would not take no for an answer and equally fortunate to know Rabbi Morris Gordon.

The Scheinbergs were pioneers in new territory. In those days, special education services or any services for special-needs children was very minimal; Daniel’s father would later create a Boy Scout Explorers Post for many young men like Dan, and he taught them many adaptive skills and provided them with many experiences that would serve them well in life.

Friendship Circle Lives Up to Its Name

Written by Ezra Troy on . Posted in Features

The Friendship Circle is a program started by Rabbi Levi Shemtov of West Bloomfield, Michigan, that gives assistance and support to 3,000 individuals with special needs and their families by providing recreational, social, educational and vocational programming. According to their website, their mission is to “create friendship in the lives of individuals with special needs and those facing isolation while providing an opportunity to become a contributing member of the community.” The Friendship Circle has branches all over the world that help with this mission.

Reflections on My Experiences at Ohev Sholom - The National Synagogue

Written by Nathan Weissler on . Posted in Features

I am a local college student and a member of Ohev Sholom - The National Synagogue, and I am also on the autism spectrum. Over time, I have had many positive experiences regarding inclusion at locations such as Ohev Sholom, where my family and I are members. The clergy, staff and congregants always do their best to help me have important and positive experiences.

Franco Foundation Offers Safety Net for Financially Vulnerable Families

Written by Barbara Trainin Blank on . Posted in Features

SILVER SPRING, MD–– Mitzvah goreret mitzvah. One good deed leads to another. That certainly has been the case with the Franco Foundation.

In a sense, the foundation started by accident, beginning as an effort by members of the Sephardi Minyan of Young Israel Shomrai Emunah of Greater Washington to help a family in dire straits.

“I and other members of the minyan committed to helping them for a few years,” said Allan Franco, who created the foundation in 1999 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and administers it to this day. “I spoke with my accountant, and he volunteered to set the foundation up.”

County Busing Pilot Stalls

Written by Suzanne Pollak on . Posted in Features

 ROCKVILLE (MD)–– It’s been 18 months since Montgomery County’s public school buses last transported students to six private schools, including three Jewish day schools.

Under the county’s non-public school traffic mitigation program, which began in September 2014, approximately 2,600 students from the Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy, the Torah School of Greater Washington and the Yeshiva of Greater Washington rode on public school buses every day. Two Catholic schools and one nonsectarian school also benefitted from the program.

The county covered 78 percent of the cost for the use of the buses and drivers. The schools were responsible for the remaining 22 percent, which they passed on to the participating parents.

But in the Spring of 2015, the county council slashed the program’s proposed $600,000 budget to $159,000. That reduced sum was then designated for paying a consultant to come up with a way to continue the program.

JCRC Testifies for Increase in State Scholarships to Private School Students

Written by Super User on . Posted in Features

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington last week testified in favor of a budget increase for a Maryland state program that provides scholarships to low-income private school students, and in its first year assisted more than 100 youngsters attending Jewish day schools in Montgomery County. Many Jewish students from Baltimore also benefited.

The Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Today (BOOST) Program, which was launched for the 2016-2017 school year, was established as a line item in the state’s $42 billion budget by Gov. Larry Hogan (R). The legislature appropriated $4.85 million from the state’s general fund for the scholarships for the one-year initiative, and the governor is now seeking to increase the program to $10 million over the next three years. Hogan’s request for fiscal year 2018 is an increase of $1.85 million, which would make $6.7 million available for the 2017-2018 school year.

GWCK “Shabbos of Inspiration” Brings Community Together

Written by Rabbi Yonatan Zakem, Silver Spring on . Posted in Features

The Greater Washington Community Kollel’s annual “Shabbos of Inspiration” at Young Israel Shomrai Emunah is always an enjoyable and meaningful experience, and this year’s event was no exception. The Shabbat of Parshas Bo (February 3-4) was replete with Torah, ruach (spirit), song and prayer.

Beginning with the melodious and uplifting Kabbalat Shabbat led by guest chazzan Simcha Leiner, the Shabbos continued with a lively catered dinner, open to the community. Dinner was followed by a mini learning session with concurrent classes led by Kollel scholars, followed by a dessert buffet accompanied a zemirot-filled oneg Shabbat.

Yitro, Mishpatim, and Disability Shabbat

Written by Alan A. Fisher on . Posted in Features

From the excitement of the Exodus, crossing of the Sea of Reeds, destruction of the Egyptian army and fireworks of the revelation at Har Sinai (Mount Sinai), the Torah now changes both focus and tone. Through most of Parshat Yitro, the wording in the Torah is primarily narrative. However, starting with Aseret ha’Dibrot (Ten Commandments), and then especially in Parshat Mishpatim, we turn from history class to law school. In short, the remainder of Sefer Shemot and vast bulk of Sefer Vayikra are primarily mitzvot. In the mitzvot sections of the Torah, the presentation is primarily thematic and not necessarily chronological. (Rabbi Menachem Leibtag at www.tanach.org explains the chronology of each parsha.)

Lessons in Communal Responsibility

Written by Rabbi Dovid Rosenbaum on . Posted in Features

Our community has lost three very special rabbis over a brief period of time. Rabbi Gedaliah Anemer of Young Israel Shomrai Emunah in Kemp Mill, Rabbi Hillel Klavan of Congregation Ohev Shalom Talmud Torah in Washington, D.C., and Rabbi Kalman Winter of Southeast Hebrew Congregation - Knesset Yehoshua in White Oak, all of blessed memory, all passed within the last seven years. In addition to being stellar leaders of their congregations, together these three rabbis were the core of Vaad Harabanim (Rabbinical Council) of Greater Washington’s leadership over the 25-year period preceding their passing.

Much has been said, and rightfully so, about the end of a rabbinic era in the Greater Washington Jewish community. As a rabbi of “the next generation” who had the great privilege of working closely with each of these individuals, I have reflected considerably since the recent passing of Rabbi Klavan on the common qualities these men shared in their leadership of the community.

Taking the “Bored” Out of The Board

Written by Rabbi Ozzie Burnham on . Posted in Features

I’m betting you’ve heard about them. It might have been in an unsolicited comment over the phone, while picking up the kids at school, or at the poolside on a lazy summer Sunday, but you’ve no doubt been told about the following organizational boards:

The ATM: “The biggest donors are put on the board. The organization does a dog and pony show for them every once in a while, just to keep the cash flowing.”

The Bobbleheads: “Those people clearly don’t get much time respect at home - they take it out at board meetings. It’s all talk and procedure.”

The Like Button: “The Executive Director has the board around his finger. He knows how to schmooze them up and they know to rubber stamp his decisions.”