Churches, from many different faiths and religions, are starting to recognize the importance of including children who have special needs into their services and teachings. There is a website called “On Eagles Wings” that specializes in helping special needs children to learn what they need to in order to have their Bar or Bat Mitzvah.
The Jewish religion is one of the many faiths that require children to attend classes that teach them more about their religion. These classes are called Hebrew School, and involve teaching children how to speak and understand the Hebrew language. This is very important to know if the child is going to have a Bar or Bat Mitzvah.
Part of the Bar or Bat Mitzvah coming of age ritual involves the child, (or young teenager), to read the Torah. They may also be required to have a discussion about what they just read out loud, to a crowd of people. This is done in Hebrew, and not in English.
Learning a foreign language is something that many children, (and adults), can struggle with. Children who have special needs that make it difficult for them to read, or who have difficulties with comprehension or attention span, may find themselves really struggling to learn Hebrew. It is going to take more study than would typically be expected, and certain kinds of adaptations may need to happen in order to facilitate the child’s ability to learn.
Rabbi Margot Stein is the mother of a child who has autism. She has spent five years as a Bar and Bat Mitzvah tutor for children who have a variety of special needs. She noted that kids who have ADHD, autism, or dyslexia can really struggle with trying to decipher Hebrew. The alphabet is written backwards, and has dots for vowels.
She started a website called “On Eagle’s Wings” in order to reach more families who need the kind of help she knows how to provide. Parents of children who have been diagnosed with a learning disability or developmental delay can find excellent resources on the website to help their child go “from book to bimah”.
I think you need to become a member in order to gain access to things like training tips, Hebrew lessons, and mp3s of prayers. You can also hire a tutor from this website, who will work with your special needs child through Skype, iChat, Google Chat, or in person. The tutoring service costs $85.00 per week, or $300.00 per month.
Image by Lawrie Cate on Flickr