Shay Vinitsky began studying privately for his bar mitzvah in spring 2009, a full year before his March 2010 date. But it wasn’t until the next winter, when Shay and his classmates at the Ohn School for the Physically Disabled, a Tel Aviv school for students with cerebral palsy, began to participate in a bar/bat mitzvah project that his excitement truly began to build.
Enrolled in the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Program for Children With Special Needs, which is run by the Masorti movement, the Conservative movement’s sister in Israel, Shay and his friends spent three months studying the blessings, Shabbat, customs, festivals and performing mitzvot. At the end of the school year, the students participated in a joint bar and bat mitzvah ceremony in a Masorti synagogue accessible to the disabled.
The program, which ran in 30 schools until recent budget cuts limited it to 18 schools, is unique in that it includes students from every conceivable Jewish background, from secular to ultra-Orthodox. In all, more than 3,000 disabled children and adults have celebrated their rite of passage with the program.
Read more here: B’nai Mitzvah can be a reality for kids with special needs in Israel | Bar & Bat Mitzvahs | Jewish Journal.
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