While I empathize with Sarina Roffe’s plight (“Heroic Efforts Needed To Change Special Needs Stereotype,” Opinion, Feb. 3), I found it disappointing that she did not detail what these heroic efforts might be. She also appeared to be perpetuating the stereotype that children with special needs cannot receive a quality mainstream yeshiva education. Today, there are many organizations and institutions in New York and beyond that make it possible for children with a wide variety of special needs to receive a Jewish education alongside their non-disabled peers.
Rather than highlighting the isolation and exclusion of individuals with special needs (including the deaf) in Jewish institutions, The Jewish Week could be a part of the solution by highlighting and bringing attention to the organizations that make it possible for so many children to have a mainstream Jewish education and participate in Jewish life to the fullest extent possible.
With regard to individuals who are deaf, thanks to advances in technology, including but not limited to cochlear implants, there are many Jewish deaf children learning alongside their hearing peers without the use of interpreters. These children are also able to learn about Jewish life and participate fully without feeling excluded or isolated.
Nothing makes me and my husband happier as parents than seeing our deaf preschooler have play dates with his peers, recite blessings and prayers that he learned at school, encourage his little brother to kiss the plush Torah, and celebrate the Jewish holidays with much enthusiasm. We hope that it will be possible for all Jewish parents of children with special needs to be able to experience this pride and joy in seeing their children being included in the framework of Jewish life.
Editor’s Note: The Jewish Week will continue to highlight the issue of special needs in our community.