I was literally sitting in the synagogue and crying, watching the speaker sign and listening to the voice from the interpreter. I really believe that all our synagogues, schools, work places, and organizations need to better incorporate diversity and disability into the environment, and not just by paying meaningless lip-service to it, but by enabling everyone to come, feel welcome, participate, and be together as all children of G-d naturally should be.
Finally, it was beautiful to have the synagogue let someone who was deaf have the pulpit and the ability to speak to us. It would be so awesome for everyone’s voice to be heard. We take our abilities (such as speaking, hearing, and being mobile) for granted. So let’s design the community with all the people in mind and give everyone a true voice. In the end, it’s not just what they say, but some things are communicated more than words.
It didn’t matter what race or nationality the person who had been hit by the car was, she was a human being in pain and who needed the help of others. We Jews need to remember that this is life in a nutshell. Life can change in split instance for better or G-d forbid, for worse. We need one another. No man is an island. We can’t afford to play holier than thou with anyone else. Only G-d can judge who is really “religious” and who is wanting.
It brought to my mind the irony that with the Jewish people, we are a small minority in the world, and yet we often disagree, fight, and can be intolerant and neglectful of one another despite facing anti-Semitism and other crises. This is far from the ideal of demonstrating love and acceptance, unifying ourselves together, and becoming as strong and effective as a “light unto nations” that we could and should be.
We can have our personal and communal ideals and standards, but at the same time have empathy for the journey that people are on. Therefore, we should strive to treat each other with kindness and tolerance and put aside the lofty and phony airs of personal judgement and exclusivity. Because in the end, no one knows who is laying next on the street waiting for that ambulance to come.