Mount Zion Temple Accessibility and Inclusion Working Group
Successes 2014-2017

Education/Advocacy

  • Joan Ostrove created and facilitated a presentation to the A&I working group on her personal story of becoming interested in and committed to disability-related topics, including why this work is important for us to do as Jews (2014)
  • Joan Ostrove and Allyson Perling facilitated a 2-hour awareness session for leadership and administrative staff (2014)
  • Allyson Perling attended Mount Zion’s board of director’s meeting to discuss how to integrate accessibility and inclusion strategies (2015)
  • Shelley Robbins and Allyson Perling met with Rabbi Spilker to discuss how to re-infuse A&I concepts into Religious and Chai school (2015)
  • Shelly Robbins spoke with Religious School Director recruitment co-chairs to share what A&I working group hoped to see in new director (2015)
  • Batya Spector and Allyson Perling attended interview sessions for Religious School Director candidates to ensure that A&I was included (2015)
  • Batya Spector and Allyson Perling attended several Kehillah Council meetings and events to encourage the integration of A&I concepts into strategic plan (2015)
  • Allyson Perling collaborated with librarian Bob Epstein to add books on disability related topics for children/adults to Mount Zion’s library (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)

Divrei Torah

  • Erev Rosh Hashanah, “A Welcoming Place for All,” Rabbi Adler (2012)
  • Yom Kippur, “It’s Not What You Look At,” Rabbi Adler (2014)
  • “Holding On And Letting Go,” Cantor Spilker, Yom Kippur (2014)
  • JDAIM Shabbat, “Looking at Dis(Ability) Through a Jewish Lens,” Allyson Perling (2014)
  • Sisterhood Shabbat, “How Will You Choose to Live?” using her experiences of working with the blind, Sheri Frisque (2014)
  • Sisterhood Shabbat, Ruth Garner, spoke on growing up with a brother with a disability (2015)
  • JDAIM Shabbat, “Cultivating Patience, Reframing Disability: A Jewish Perspective on Access and Inclusion, Joan Ostrove, (2016)

Iton Tziyon Bulletin Articles (most but not all)

  • January-February 2014 (page 12)
  • September 2014 (page 11)
  • October-November 2014 (pages 5, 18)
  • December-January 2014-15 (page 8)
  • February 2015 (pages 8-9)
  • High Holidays Information (page 4)
  • November/December 2015 (page 17)
  • January/February 2016 (page 17)
  • December/January 2016-2017 (page 15)
  • All HHD publications (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)

Jewish Disability and Inclusion Awareness Month (JDAIM)

  • JDAIM Shabbat, “Looking at Dis(Ability) Through a Jewish Lens,” Allyson Perling (2014)
  • Anne Starr and Allyson Perling facilitated a session for Women’s Spirituality titled “Disability and Inclusion: the Jewish Ethics of Inclusion” (2015)
  • Rabbi Adler read the story Junkyard Wonders by Patricia Polacco for Shabbat services first Friday night of JDAM (2015)
  • Bob Epstein displayed books about disability and inclusion (2015, 2016, 2017)
  • On the first Friday night of the month Rabbi Adler read the book Gorski, I Think I Have the Wiggle Fidgets by Barbara Esham. Took the opportunity to introduce the new fidget toys for use at services (2016)
  • Joan Ostrove was the pulpit guest speaking on “Cultivating Patience, Re-framing Disability: A Jewish Perspective on Access and Inclusion” (2016)
  • Information blitz with articles, videos and links on Mount Zion’s Facebook page (2015, 2016, 2017)
  • Scholar In Residence Pamela Schuler—(2017)
  • Friday night dinner hosted by Liza Henry with local youth workers and Pamela Schuler
  • Friday night interactive D’var Torah delivered by Pamela Schuler with focus on younger children and families
  • Shabbat morning service focused on inclusion with a discussion at lunch on the difference of accessibility and inclusion and how to increase inclusion at Mount Zion facilitated by Pamela Schuler
  • Dinner hosted by Allyson Perling with Pamela Schuler and A&I working group
  • Sisterhood and Brotherhood co-sponsored Improv Night with Pamela Schuler with about 60 participants in attendance
  • Sunday morning staff training
  • Sunday morning Keynote address on inclusion within the Jewish community with 100 Mount Zion congregants and community members.
  • Local and regional youth board members from grades 7th-12th, along with 8 youth professionals participated in educational session

Physical Accessibility

  • Rabbi Spilker and Rabbi Adler announced during transition times like entering or leaving the sanctuary that everyone be sensitive to those who are walking slowly, using walkers and wheelchairs (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)
  • Tashlich site was moved and well received (2015)
  • A 3rd handicapped parking spot and permanent signage were added to the lot adjacent to the kitchen (2015)
  • Automatic door installed for the accessible bathroom located near the kitchen (2015)

Deaf and Hard of Hearing

  • Installed a hearing/loop system f0r congregants with hearing aides (2014)
  • 15 people participated in an 8-week American Sign Language (ASL) class with David and Becky Rosenthal as the instructors (2014)
  • ASL interpreters at: High Holy Day, Purim services, the sixth grade B’nei Mitzvah retreat, along with other meetings, classes and programs (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)

Vision

  • Adjustable print sizes added on Mount Zion’s website and print size increased on mobile devices (2016)
  • Purchased two hand-held magnifiers to use during services and Torah study for prayer books and other small print (2015)
  • Two E-readers were acquired, the new Mishkan HaNefesh High Holiday prayer books were uploaded onto the devices and the readers were made available for high holiday service
  • Rabbis Adler and Spilker introduced the concept of vision accommodations at the beginning of high holiday services and how this would be a culture change allowing technology to provide access for low vision congregants
  • Sheri Frisque conducted a training session for all staff that included the use of vision simulators and the impact when using various written items, seating in the sanctuary and social time in the lobby (2017)

Sensory Support

  • Sisterhood lounge/small sanctuary provided as a space on Shabbat and HHD for families with young children who need a break (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)
  • Cantor Spilker researched and purchased Jewish related books for children for a book cart to keep in lobby near the gift shop (2015)
  • Sheri Frisque and her mother made decorative bags and fidget toys were purchased to fill them to keep on the Shabbat cart for kids/adults ages 3 and above to use and help them focus during services (2015, 2016, 2017)
  • The library added two new books about fidgeting: Fidget to Focus and Gorski I Think I Have the Wiggle Fidgets (2015)
  • Susan Amram Summit purchased fidget toys for staff and madrichim to use within religious school for classrooms, services, and events (2016)

Mental Health

  • Sarah McVicar and Allyson Perling drafted a bibliography for the A&I link on Mount Zion’s website of resources on Mental Health (2016)
  • Anna Fox and Al Levin were recruited as co-chairs of a Mental Health taskforce to assess what is already being done and create a 3-year plan (2017)
  • A&I task force created a comprehensive list of resources, activities, programs, and outreach that Mount Zion Clergy and staff already provide and do on mental health for use by the taskforce (2017)
  • NAMI Hope for Recovery Class which is targeted to those (18 and over) parents, friends, people with loved ones, neighbors and colleagues with a mental health condition(s). Topics include: different types of mental illnesses and treatments, coping strategies, communication tools, and local resources (2016, November 2017)

Youth Group/Madrichim/ Religious School/CHAI School

  • New statement included in all youth group emails, “Mount Zion is a diverse and inclusive community. We welcome all who seek to experience and celebrate Judaism including people of all abilities, interfaith families and LGBTQ individuals, couples and families. We strive to accommodate all youth. Please contact Liza Henry or Sam Petersen-Perlman to discuss how we can meet your child’s needs.” (2015, 2016, 2017)
  • Collaborated with Youth Engagement staff to discuss ways to include and support several youth at ongoing and overnight events (2015, 2016, 2017)
  • 7th graders and Gesher Mentors participated in NAMI’s “Ending the Silence” Workshop (2015)
  • Youth Engagement Director Liza Henry attended NAMI’s Mental Health First Aid Class
  • Focused on mental health at the Yom Kippur teen Service including a Q&A with a panel of mental health professionals (2015)
  • Provided mental health information including important phone numbers and informational pamphlets from NAMI in Youth Lounge (2015, 2016, 2017)
  • Checked in with families and youth with dietary restrictions prior to finalizing food for youth group events and provided alternatives when needed (2015, 2016, 2017)
  • Allyson Perling facilitated a session on inclusion at the fall staff and madrichim training (2016)
  • Staff training during JDAIM Scholar in Residence Weekend (see above).
  • Sheri Frisque and Joan Ostrove met with 7th graders as part of and did brief discussion/learning units related to visual impairments (Sheri) and deaf and hard-of-hearing people (Joan) (2016)

Allergies and Sensitivities

  • Increased gluten and dairy free options at synagogue sponsored events
  • Signage for gluten and dairy free on food tables
  • Low- and no-scent flowers on bimah (2015, 2016, 2017)

Around and Outside Mount Zion

  • In collaboration with Teresa Matzek an A&I page was created under “What’s at Mount Zion for Me?” web page including videos, D’vrei Torah, accomplishments, links to articles in Iton Tziyon and contact information for working group members (2015)
  • Allyson Perling represented Mount Zion Temple’s A&I efforts at the Biennial in Orlando, Florida (2015)
  • Mount Zion Temple honored as an Exemplar Congregation in Disability Inclusion at the URJ’s Biennial (2015)
  • In collaboration with Jewish Community action Joan Ostrove and Beth Blick co-facilitated a discussion on: Where Does Disability Fit Into the Discussion of Mass Incarceration and Criminal Justice?” (2016)
  • Cantor Spilker consulted with Sheri Frisque on vision-related best practices for a guide for Mayyim Hayyim(mikveh in Newton, MA) (2016)
  • org published an article written by Allyson Perling “How My Daughter Persevered on her Bat Mitzvah Day,” (2016)
  • Sue Lund led a task force to create a marketing brochure to be used by ushers on Friday nights, in the welcome packet for new members, and for displays throughout Mount Zion (2016)
  • New resource room to be used by KULAM students was dedicated at a ceremony in honor of the Taishoff Family Foundation (2017)
  • New Member’s Open House Members of the A&I working group staffed a table to explain what we are doing and to answer questions at both events (2015, 2016, 2017)