On Friday night I was in synagogue. After services a teenage choir performed for the community. A cute little kid went on stage and started dancing. While he was adorable, his father realized that he was stealing their thunder and whisked him off stage.
This kid was not happy and lay in a heap on the ground having a melt down as the father battled to pick him up and take him out.
As we were exiting the sanctuary I heard a woman screaming at this dad. I whispered to her go easy on him the child has special needs. She turned to glare at me and said “Well then he should not be in this synagogue”.
Her views certainly don’t reflect those of the synagogue which has taken on addressing special needs. This person was most likely single as every parent has had the experience of dealing with melt downs in public. However it is a reminder that prejudice to people with disabilities still exist in out community. If it can exist in our highly educated, high socio-economic world on the Upper West Side of Manhattan then frankly prejudice still remains. I also know that people will say she’s an exception. My reply is that it’s not good enough.
As we enter 2015 I asked the teachers, parents, communal leaders and business people what you can do to educate people. Maybe it’s a talk from the pulpit, maybe a work place sensitivity training or just a conversation with your kids. You really can make a difference.
Originally published: December 22, 2014
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