Depending on each student’s particular needs and interests, the clergy and educator create a plan for the child that includes what he or she will learn in preparation for the service, as well as the child’s particular interests and needs. Because of this individualized methodology, many families whose children have disabilities have been attracted to and/or joined the synagogue. In the case of students with cognitive disabilities, the parents and the educator work together to determine a plan for the child, including the length of the service, whether or not the child will read or recite from memory, and whether the child will use Hebrew. For all other children, the educator meets together with the parents and the child to learn about the child’s specific interests and passions. Most students chant the Torah portion, though they have the option not to. The rabbi incorporates the child’s particular areas of interest into his speech and into the service.
This kind of learning takes a lot of extra work for everyone involved, so it requires the unconditional support of clergy and lay leadership.
Grade levels: 6, 7
Learners: Children (pre-B’nai Mitzvah), Parents
Everyone in the target audience is required to participate in the program
Year Implemented: 2009
B’nai Mitzvah each year: 22