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Judith Snow listens as Marsha Forest addresses a question.
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Parents Seek Support
At Inclusion Workshop
JILL DAVIDSON SKLAR STAFF WRITER
ords of encouragement
and food for thought
were served Sunday to
about 70 parents and
teachers seeking inclusion for
children with physical and men-
tal impairments at a workshop
designed for Jewish educators.
"Creating Inclusive Jewish
Communities," led by Dr. Mar-
sha Forest and Judith Snow,
spoke to the need in the commu-
nity to accept all members of the
The three-hour morning pro-
gram featured talks by interna-
tional inclusion experts Dr.
Forest and Ms. Snow, a video pre-
sentation and a question-and-an-
swer period. Lunch and dialogue
followed the morning segment.
Howard Gelberd, director of
the host Agency for Jewish Edu-
cation which co-sponsored the
event with other community
groups, said the program was
necessary to sensitize the com-
munity to the needs of all stu-
"We have to realize that it is
not cost-effective to make inclu-
sion work," he said. "It is going to
be complicated. We need good
support in the classroom and in
the synagogue, in the communi-
Parents in the audience, some
cradling infants, wept as the pro-
gram began with a slide show de-
picting a range of children of all
abilities as part of community ac-
"I can't help but get emotion-
al," said Golda Cohen, a parent
of a disabled child. "It is a very
personal issue for me."
Dr. Forest compared the need
to recognize the importance of in-
clusion to the society's treatment
of Jews before the Holocaust. She
said the disabled, like Jews in Eu-
rope, are exiled and not allowed
to make the same living as able-
"If the Jewish community
doesn't understand it, no one will
understand," Dr. Forest said.
Dr. Forest defined inclusion as
learning to live with all others in
a community, not just being in
"What part of all don't we un-
derstand?" she asked the crowd.
"In some places all doesn't include
Jews. In some places it does not
include Indians. In nearly all
places, it is people in wheelchairs
or people with Down's syndrome.
The question is: "Where do we
want all to begin and end?"
"For us, it is a rights and jus-
tice issue, not a Jerry Lewis Pity-
a-thon," she said.
community needs to
know the importance
Ms. Snow opened the second
portion of the morning segment
with a story about a 12-year-old
girl in Canada who recently was
killed by her parents for having
"You can be convinced to ex-
clude them, to make them poor,
to kill them," she said.
From her fully motorized
wheelchair she controls with tiny
movements of her thumb, Ms.
Snow told the audience that she
is not disabled and that she nev-
er was. She went through sever-
al meanings of disabled, using
comparisons with cars and
"When a car is disabled it
means that the car is not work-
ing as a car. That doesn't mean