The Shabbat weekend of March 5-7, the Juni family – Tikvah, a longtime Yachad member, and her parents, Dr. Sam and Esther Juni, – will be speaking at Congregation Ahavas Torah in Philadelphia to emphasize the message of Inclusion of those with disabilities in the larger Jewish community. The weekend is an extension of Yachad’s North American Inclusion Month (NAIM), which was the month of February. Because there was such an overwhelming response by communities wanting to participate in the month-long initiative, events are set to take place in March as well.
Along with Yachad, the weekend is being co-sponsored by Jewish Community of Rhawnhurst (JCOR); OROT, an organization that supports special needs education in Jewish day schools; and the Fried family of the Philadelphia community.
At the recent OU Annual Dinner in December, at which Yachad was honored on its 25th anniversary, Tikvah, 27, delivered the evening’s d’var Torah (words of Torah) in which she spoke about how Yachad has helped create a more diverse and inclusive Jewish community for young people like her.
“Yachad has offered me many opportunities to learn and grow in a community of friends,” she said in her remarks at the Dinner, which were received with a standing ovation. Tikvah’s parents are not only proud and supportive of their daughter but also speak on their experience with disabilities in the Jewish community.
Event sponsor Larry Fried declared, “My wife, Mindi and I, had recently considered making our own presentation on special needs inclusion to our community because we feel there is a real need to discuss this issue. We feel fortunate that Yachad has offered to send the Juni family, all dynamic speakers, to Philadelphia to enlighten and inspire. We hope everyone will come and enjoy, and that this Shabbaton will enhance achdut (unity) in the community.”
On March 6, Shabbat afternoon, Tikvah will speak at a dessert reception the Fried home. Tikvah will speak on “The Stigma of Being Special: Psychological and Religious Dilemmas,” in which she will discuss what her life has been like as someone who has differences from the majority of society.
Later that afternoon at the synagogue, before mincha, Dr. Juni, Professor of Applied Psychology at New York University, will speak on “Orthodoxy of Exclusion: How Perfect People Deal with the Imperfect.”
That Saturday night, there will be a Melava Malka with a guided discussion by the Juni family. They will speak on “Do Unto Others: What Our Attitudes Say About Us.”
On Sunday, there will be a Sunday Friendship Circle Support Network. Mrs. Juni, who holds a degree in public administration and is the CEO of JewTee.com, an Internet-based marketing firm offering Jewish and family-value-oriented products, will deliver a talk, “When Disability Strikes Our Family: Open Questions about Family Planning, Adoption, Education, Mainstreaming, Moving Out, and Marriage.”
For more information, contact Dr. Michelle Orgel at 212-613-8172 or firstname.lastname@example.org.