As you have no doubt read over the past several Shabbat Smile emails, RespectAbility has been conducting a seven-part Disability Access and Inclusion Training Series for Jewish Organizations. While we plan on conducting more trainings in the future, for now we are happy to share with you that all seven trainings are live on our website, with open captions, transcripts, and accessible PowerPoint slides! If you missed one, a few, or all seven trainings in the series, or just want a refresher on some of the topics covered, we invite you to visit our Jewish Inclusion website!
The website also has our “Opening Your Virtual Gates: Making Online High Holiday Celebrations Accessible to All” toolkit. As I wrote in the toolkit’s introduction, “it is easy to make online services, and related events, accessible to everyone — if you know how.” And this toolkit should teach you how! I hope you find it helpful and will share it with every congregation you know so that all online Jewish convenings can be accessible.
Below, read a great piece written by Jared Goldin about the Israel Sports Center for the Disabled (ISCD) and their Go 60! challenge!
Director of RespectAbility California and Jewish Leadership
Accepting the ISCD Go 60! Challenge
by Jared Goldin
I first visited the Israel Sports Center for the Disabled (ISCD) with my wife Trish in Ramat Gan, Israel, in late March 2019. How exciting it was to watch competitive athletes with disabilities training for sports including tennis and wheel chair rugby, as well as young children learning to swim and kick soccer balls. Many of the children were first discovering the physical skills and abilities they possessed and what they could accomplish when given the opportunity (and the proper facilities and support). Afterwards, I joined a diverse group of adaptive and nonadaptive cyclists from the U.S., the U.K., Australia, and Israel—including many former champion Israeli hand cyclists. Together, we cycled for three days in the Upper Galilee, riding 180 miles as part of the ISCD’s Good Wheel 2019. Our cycling trip concluded at the Israel-Lebanon border overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.
My personal journey to this event actually began in 1966, when I was in seventh grade. That year, I was diagnosed with Osgood-Schlatter (O-S) disease, a ligament inflammation characterized by a painful bump below the knee that worsens with activity. Back then, tagged with a strange, foreign-sounding disease, I and others with assorted physical limitations attended what was known as “ortho gym” in lieu of regular physical education class. Around the same time I also met a classmate’s dad who was an original member of the Long Beach Flying Wheels: a wheelchair basketball team of WWII veterans. This introduction left a real impression.
Once my O-S cleared up, I rarely thought about this diagnosis or wheelchair basketball until late 2018. It was then that I met Boaz Kramer, who is a medical doctor, former champion wheelchair tennis player, award-winning Paralympian, and executive director of the ISCD. He, along with a coterie of young athletes, made a spirited and impactful visit to Los Angeles.
Established in 1960 near Tel Aviv, the ISCD initially focused on rehabilitating polio survivors. Before long, it was also serving wounded warriors and individuals injured in accidents, as well as those with cerebral palsy and other conditions. ISCD’s many sports offerings include swimming, wheelchair basketball, soccer, and table tennis. Its full array of training facilities enable athletes and teams to compete in leagues and tournaments around the world. By 2007, the ISCD was serving 80 percent of Israelis in these categories, including the largest percentage of children anywhere in the world at a center of this kind.
The ISDC provides a second home to some 2,500 Israelis of all ages and abilities. It serves as a place in which “the unique merit of sports is utilized to strengthen body, spirit, and mind and where people with disabilities are empowered to become fully integrated members of society.” Children, in particular, gain self-esteem and confidence at the ISDC, finding and honing interests and skills they never knew they possessed, including ones they may have been told were out of reach for them to pursue.
Despite COVID-19, the ISCD will celebrate its 60th anniversary through GO 60!, the ISCD Anniversary Challenge. ISCD athletes have created challenges in a variety of sports and are inviting all of us to do the same. You can pick one of their activity challenges or get creative and come up with your own. For more information and exciting Go 60! Challenge videos visit: https://afiscd.org/go60-the-iscd-anniversary-challenge/
Participating in Good Wheel 2019 gave Trish and me the opportunity to witness first-hand the magic that takes place through the ISCD. Determination and grit—and smiles and comradery — are on constant display at the ISCD. We were motivated and are honored to accompany ISCD and its athletes on their individual (and team) journeys in every way possible.
Jared Goldin is a past president of Congregation B’nai Tikvah in Walnut Creek, CA. He and Trish are now members of Temple Israel in Long Beach, CA where Jared serves on the Board and Trish teaches a Mussar class. They are also both members of the National Council of Jewish Women. Their daughter, Emma Lutz, is a Cantor at Stephen Wise Temple in Los Angeles, CA and their son-in-law is the Rabbi-Educator at Temple Emmanuel in Beverly Hills, CA. For more Information about ISCD contact Randi Sunshine at Randi.Sunshine@afiscd.org.
In our Jewish Disability Perspectives newsletter, RespectAbility welcomes a wide spectrum of voices. The views expressed in each Jewish Disability Perspectives contribution are those of the guest contributor.