THE MISSION STATEMENT OF THE INCLUSION COMMITTEE:
Congregation Beth Yeshurun seeks to promote opportunities for participation of Jewish people with physical, mental, or psychological impairments including their families in all aspects of Synagogue life.
ACCESSIBLE DOORS: We installed automatic doors at the entrances to the building and in the restrooms. These doors were installed in 2015 and underwritten by donations from loving and caring members.
ASSISTIVE LISTENING DEVICES (ALDs): We utilize the most up to date devices to improve our Congregants’ and guests’ listening experiences in the Barg Sanctuary and in the Freedman-Levit Sanctuary.
GOLF CARTS AND WHEELCHAIRS: There are wheelchairs available in the synagogue for congregants and guests to utilize. For many years you could find Carl and his golf cart transporting people from the parking lot to the building whenever there was a need. Sadly, Carl retired in 2017, but the golf cart “lives on”, picking up members and visitors in our main parking lot, rain or shine.
MODIFIED PRAYER BOOKS: The Committee has acquired two Braille Shabbat prayer books for our visually-impaired Congregants and guests. Sim Shalom Shabbat Siddurim with large print now populate our Chapel so those who are sight challenged will find it easier to pray.
MEZZUZOT: The Committee in conjunction with our Religious School installed Mezuzzot at a lower level at the entrance to the J. B. Greenfield Chapel so that children and people in wheel chairs may easily touch the Mezzuza upon entering.
OPENING THE PAROCHET: Our main sanctuary has remote control devices allowing a person the opportunity to open the Parochet without requiring them to ascend stairs.
POD-CASTING AND STREAMING: Live streaming and pod-casting on our website of High Holiday, Shabbat, other Services, as well as other importent events. The equipment and cost of streaming have been generously underwritten by Arthur and Nancy Brand and their family.
SANCTUARY MODIFICATIONS: As part of the 2018 remodel, a new wheelchair ramp was installed in the Barg Sanctuary and the reading table was relocated from the upper Bimah to the lower Bimah allowing congregants and guests greater access. Handicap accessible seating and wider pews can now be found in the Freedman-Levit Sanctuary.
Programs, Groups, and Special Shabbats
THE GATHERING PLACE: The Gathering Place Program is a once a month, free activity program for people with memory loss that is manned by volunteers who plan and implement, under the professional guidance of Interfaith Care Partners. Activities include Tai Chi exercises, arts and crafts, singers, mysterious magic shows, word games, comfort dog visits, balloon volleyball, a Kosher lunch, bingo, and more. The Gathering Place Program has been awarded a USCJ Schecter Commendation Award, and awards and honors from the Houston Jewish Community Foundation.
INCLUSION SHABBAT: The Committee has annually sponsored its Friday Night Inclusion Shabbat in February during National Jewish Disability Month as a way to create awareness, respect, and sensitivity within the community of the needs of those with disabilities. We have had outstanding speakers including: congregant, Michael Segal an original Inclussion Committee member, a nationally recognized speaker, and author; Kevin Saunders a motivational speaker, Paralympic Track and Field champion, and world record holder in multiple events; congregant, Alan Hirshman one of the original Inclusion Committee members, and father of Steven, a special Olympics athlete, Angela Wrigglesworth, former Ms. Texas Wheelchair winner and Teacher of the Year award winner. Each year the Inclusion Committee honors people in the community who have made significant contributions toward inclusion.
KESHER: Kesher is a community-wide Jewish education program for students with disabilities. This program as organized by Jewish Family Services and underwritten by the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston. Beth Yeshurun has been a proud supporter and participant.
REEL ABILITIES: We have participated as a partner with Jewish Family Service in its ReelAbilities: Houston Disabilities Film Festival in collaboration with Houston’s Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities. ReelAbilities is a city-wide film and arts festival which uses the arts to promote inclusion and celebrate the lives, stories, and artwork of people with disabilities.
WELCOME CART: Rabbi Sarah Fort and the Committee are now in the process of establishing a Welcome Cart with a variety of items that will help make the time spent in services more enjoyable and meaningful for children and adults of all needs.