Saturday, November 21, 2009

UK launches campaign to encourage synagogues to reach out to Jews with learning disabilities

From the Jewish Chronicle in the UK:

A national campaign which encourages synagogues and Jewish organisations to include people with learning disabilities has been launched.

The Inclusion Campaign was launched on Sunday at the UK premiere of the documentary film Praying with Lior (pictured), at the UK Jewish Film Festival.

The campaign, led by learning disability charity the Judith Trust, asks congregations to initiate practical steps to ensure that people with learning disabilities have a greater involvement in religious and communal life.

Annette Lawson, chair of the Judith Trust, said: “Parents told us there was a real problem in enabling someone with a learning disability in becoming a bar or bat mitzvah.

“We hope that within a year, every synagogue has held an inclusion Shabbat or kiddush.”

Ms Lawson spoke in front of a packed screening of Praying with Lior, a documentary which follows Lior Liebling, an American boy with Down’s Syndrome as he prepares for his bar mitzvah.

The audience also heard from the film’s director, Ilana Trachtman, who said she met Lior by accident during a time when her experience of prayer had gone “stale”.