Disabilities Awareness Shabbat

Throughout the year we’ve been amazed and gratified by the breadth and depth of talent in our little congregation.  Last Friday night’s Disabilities Awareness Shabbat exemplified the intellectual and emotional energy that have been sparking services. Alice Chernik gave a moving talk about dealing with disability throughout her life. Anita Hollander, singing “Mommy is a Mermaid” from her one-woman show “Still Standing,” hit deep emotional chords with wit and grace. Following services, Rabbi Koster delved into the subject of the Torah’s treatment of those with special needs, focusing on Moses (who stuttered), using Esau’s Blessing by Ora Horn Prouser as her textual guide.

We also had the pleasure of hearing from our Prayer Project interpreters. This week the prayer under discussion was v’ahavta, the essential prayer that is part of the sh’ma.

Sandi Knell Tamny, a congregant who is an accomplished artist, connected the prayer to her art with insight and passion. Her engrossing talk culminated with the unveiling of a remarkable work, reflecting the artist’s feeling for the v’ahavta. Sandi has generously donated this beautiful piece to The Village Temple, and it is now hanging in the synagogue’s social hall. Bill Abrams, former Village Temple president, described the resonance he feels between the prayer and his work as the president of TrickleUp, an international non-profit organization dedicated to helping the ultrapoor take the first steps out of poverty into a sustainable life. [Sandi and Bill’s talks, with illustrations, will be posted in the  Prayer Project section on the website under Worship]

As if this Shabbat evening weren’t remarkable enough, we also heard from one of our young congregants, Isabel Stern, who gave a rousing appeal for The Village Temple March 9 blood drive. Clearly, with her evident desire for tikkun olam,  Isabel has taken the message of the v’ahavta to heart.

Here are the words to the prayer:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy

heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

And these words, which I command thee this

day, shall be upon thy hearts. Thou shalt teach

them diligently unto thy children, and thou

shalt speak of them when thou sittest in thy

house, when thou walkest by the way, when

thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

Thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thy

hand, and they shall be for frontlets between

thine eyes. Thou shalt write them upon the

doorposts of thy house and upon thy gates:

That ye may remember and do all My

commandments and be holy unto your God.

Deuteronomy 6:59