Jewish Perspectives on Theology and the Human Experience of Disability.Jewish Perspectives on Theology and the Human Experience of Disability
Rabbi Judith Z Abrams & William C. Gaventa, eds. 2006, Haworth Pastoral P: New York New York, state, United States
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Jewish Perspectives on Theology and the Human Experience of Disability provides a collection of essays that address the theology, history and practical experience of disability. These are consistently easy reading, and give an accessible foray into Verb 1. foray into - enter someone else's territory and take spoils; "The pirates raided the coastal villages regularly"
encroach upon, intrude on, obtrude upon, invade - to intrude upon, infringe, encroach on, violate; "This new colleague invades my rabbinical rab·bin·i·cal also rab·bin·ic
Of, relating to, or characteristic of rabbis.
[From obsolete rabbin, rabbi, from French, from Old French rabain, probably from Aramaic theological debates, the practical implementation of religious beliefs and the genuine experience of disability in the Jewish community. The book is an international and multi-denominational anthology including contributors from the Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform movements of Judaism who are from Israel, the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. , the United Kingdom and Australia. It is interesting not so much because of the differences between traditions, but because of the depth of interpretations that have been carried forward over the centuries. It also provides a precedent for an epistemology based on sacred texts, which can inform a human response to disability.
Artson's opening contemplation describes the impulse to inclusiveness within the Jewish tradition: "Perhaps what the Torah is reminding us, then, is an insistence on a community that includes all of its members--that makes none of them invisible, that asks none of them to step outside. Perhaps only that community is a community fit to offer a sacrifice that God will accept" (p.8). Several essays go on to reflect aspects of the intuition that all humans are imperfect and people with disability have an important contribution to make, in spite of their imperfections. Theologically only God is perfect, and Artson reminds us that human wholeness does not come from perfection but from a radical act of taking hold of our imperfections and offering even them.
Clearly disability was never an impediment to God's capacity to speak to his people. Wallace Green's contribution ("Jewish theological approaches to the human experience of disability") describes how Jacob limped his way into greatness and how Moses spoke with a speech impediment and was a slow learner. Moses took up the leadership role that was thrust upon him when he was not able to persuade God that his brother Aaron, a skilled orator ORATOR, practice. A good man, skillful in speaking well, and who employs a perfect eloquence to defend causes either public or private. Dupin, Profession d'Avocat, tom. 1, p. 19..
2. , would be the better choice. This offers guidance to the person with disability, since they have been made in God's image they are obliged to act ethically, to be righteous and to give what they can to the world. The tradition reaches right to the core in its teaching that Jewish people are a living Torah, and every living Jew is one of the letters. This means that each individual must play their role in perfecting the world, an ethical responsibility that extends to those with disability.
Melinda Jones brings a wise and compassionate disability rights consciousness to the study of Jewish theology in her essay: "Judaism, Theology and the Human Rights of People with Disabilities". She draws parallels between the human rights movement and selected theological principles. These include: social responsibility, which describes the duty to act and the fact that Judaism does not entertain the notion of the innocent bystander by·stand·er
A person who is present at an event without participating in it.
a person present but not involved; onlooker; spectator
Noun 1. in the following verse: "do not stand by while your neighbour's blood is shed"); justice not charity, which describes the highest level of giving as that which ensures the self-sufficiency and independence of the person being helped; acts of loving kindness, which are dealt with in the laws governing hospitality for those who cannot fend for themselves and visiting the sick.
The longstanding attempts to find accommodations within the Jewish tradition foreshadow fore·shad·ow
tr.v. fore·shad·owed, fore·shad·ow·ing, fore·shad·ows
To present an indication or a suggestion of beforehand; presage.
fore·shad the social model, but go beyond it in their insistence on ensuring that the activity maintains its integrity. This is particularly described in approaches to specific disability such as deafness (in Gracer's essay on "What the Rabbis heard") and blindness (in Nevin's essay on "The participation of Jews who are blind in the Torah service"). The latter exploration of ways that Jews who are blind may read from the Torah and completely participate in worship provides an early example of Jewish equity and justice. There are also important comments on inclusiveness and the notion of grading activities to ensure that those with intellectual disability can also take part. For example, Wallace Green cites Rabbi Pereidah from the third century, who taught one student each lesson four hundred times; and Rabbi Haninah from the second century who successfully argued that verses could be broken into their component parts in order to make them easier to remember. Jones in her important essay touches on the principle of not putting stumbling blocks in front of others (Leviticus 19:14), which provides a strong mandate for improving accessability and developing accommodations that maintain spiritual integrity.
The second half of the book provides examples of research on the lived experience of disability and care, in terms that remind of us the fallibility fal·li·ble
1. Capable of making an error: Humans are only fallible.
2. Tending or likely to be erroneous: fallible hypotheses. of every community. Some of these are particularly relevant to occupational therapy working in the area of intellectual disability, such as an examination of the spiritual needs of this group (Eve Kuhr Hersov), and issues of marriage and parenthood (Isack Kandel). Interestingly in such a volume there is only one essay that has been written by an
individual with disability, which is devoted to a description of online teaching programs for the Talmud (Robert Brown).
These essays provide an argument for why it may be important for occupational therapists to study the responses of particular religious traditions to disability. Such traditions provide valuable examples of how writers over the centuries have seriously grappled with the issues related to disability and can enhance our understanding of the barriers that particular communities (including religious institutions) may impose, physically, spiritually and metaphorically; how accommodations can be made that respect both the traditions and the rights and responsibilities of people with disability; and finally how a community of individuals shapes a response to the questions posed by disability and imperfection im·per·fec·tion
1. The quality or condition of being imperfect.
2. Something imperfect; a defect or flaw. See Synonyms at blemish.
Mary Butler (Dr)
School of Occupational Therapy
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