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January 02, 1987 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-01-02

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

lewm-novv-,IRAWIRAtOlkslipliV4041V.WAIR:mplir..W.

SALE
CONTINUES!

ju y dusidndcr, .s.

interior designer

0.4.1.T)GetliW

"He takes me up to the To-
rah."
When Harry is called to the
Torah, Mark goes also. And
Harry makes sure that some-
times Mark gets an opportu-
nity to say the B'rachah.
Harry Cohen has done some-
thing quite rare in contempor-
ary Jewish life. He has opened
his heart to a mentally re-
tarded Jew. Harry will tell you
that he is not Mark's parent
figure, but Mark's friend. He
will also tell you that he loves
Mark. It is clear how Mark
feels about Harry.
But the rest of the Jewish
world in the United States is
not so hospitable to Mark, or
the tens of thousands of other
Jews who are mentally re-
tarded, autistic, disabled with
cerebral palsy, or otherwise
developmentally disabled. As
Mark's father has found among
his fellow Jews, "if you are not
a huge success, you're noth-
ing."
And the Jewish communal
world has reacted to the de-
velopmentally disabled as if
they were nothing. Perhaps if
ignored long enough, all these
imperfect Jews would disap-
pear. They are usually invisi-
ble in Jewish life.
Many synagogues and tem-
ples have no access for those in
wheelchairs. Group homes for
the Jewish disabled are practi-
cally non-existent in Jewish
communities throughout the
United States. Special Jewish
education programs are rare,
or hardly large enough to serve
all those who might benefit
from them.
My research about the
Jewish community's response
to the needs of the retarded and
other developmentally dis-
abled Jews has been sobering.
Social services are absent in

most communities and woe-
fully inadequate in the re-
mainder. Synagogues and
temples, Jewish community
centers, Jewish day schools,
federations and others have
failed to help very much, and
often not at all. More attention
is now being given, but resis-
tance is still strong. Programs
and facilities are expensive.
I have sat in many meetings
and heard people oppose
Jewish communal investment
in much needed services for the
developmentally disabled.
They argue that the Jewish
community cannot afford these
services, or that the state
should take care of "these
people." These people, the
Mark Abrams' of the world,
sometimes cannot find basic
support services from the state,
or anywhere else. They often
live at home with their par-
ents, isolated and frustrated.
When they do find services,
from the state or county, they
are often inadequate, and cer-
tainly devoid of Jewish con-
tent. Can the state provide a
Jewish education, or a mi-
nyan?
Harry's friendship with
Mark began with a small
heroic deed, a simple and mag-
nificent kindness. Harry asked
Mark to sit with him because it
was the right thing to do. This
act of tzedakah, of righteous-
ness, has produced a lasting
friendship, and helped add to a
rich life in Judaism for both
friends. What would Harry
Cohen want as a reward? Help
the Mark Abrams' in your own
community. Do what must be
done to insure that these spe-
cial Jews have a decent place to
live, transportation to a Jewish
Community Center, and a
place to sit in synagogue.

LETTERS

Who Is Right
In HMC Dispute?

Not long ago, several articles
appeared in The Jewish News
(with support and criticism of)
the Holocaust Center .. .
The question must be asked:
Who is right? Perhaps the an-
swer will be found by defining
the goals and objectives of the
Holocaust Memorial Center. If
the intent of the center is to
bring in thousands of people
and show them the slaughter of
millions of men, women and
children, it has achieved its ob-
jective. If the intent is also to
take it an educational resource
center, then it has failed to
achieve its objective.
As a survivor of the
Holocaust, I have shared with
thousands of youths and adults
the experiences I encountered
during the Holocaust . . . After
the Holocuast Memorial Cen-
ter opened, I contacted Rabbi
Rosenzveig, offering to share
with him the material I put to-

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gether that is being used in
high schools, universities and
other educational institutions.
He said that he would get back
in touch with me to set up an
appointment with him. After
not hearing from him for over a
year, I contacted him again
and this time arranged an ap-
pointment with him.
During the meeting, Rabbi
Rosenzveig said that they were
in the process of developing
their own educational mate-
rial, therefore my material was
not needed .. .
Despite not being accepted
by the Center, I have continued
to share with others the events
I saw and experienced. Re-
cently I put on a program at
Canton Township High School
with over 800 students in
attendance. Before I came to
the school, I personally met
with the teachers to outline the

Mark's

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