At one JCC, new classes make it easy for adults with disabilities to tune in

February 16, 2021

Source: The Forward 


Coinciding with Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month, the Marcus JCC of Atlanta’s Lisa F. Brill Institute for Jewish Learning offers inclusive education classes through the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning virtually via Zoom.

“There isn’t anything like it out there right now for this community of adults. They need to be served and connected Jewishly and we can’t forget about them,” said Talya Gorsetman, director of the Lisa F. Brill Institute. “This is the first series of Melton classes that is inclusive of people of all abilities and types of learners. We have a couple of people who were diagnosed with Down syndrome, others with congenital disabilities and intellectual disabilities,” she said.

“The curriculum and pace of the class has been modified to allow additional time for questions, clarification and repetition and to accommodate the needs of the class, such as if someone is vision or hearing impaired. We had a great discussion and mix of ideas, with everyone learning from each other.”

Encompassing Torah, Mishnah, Talmud, rabbinical writings and contemporary material, the classes cover two or three texts each week. “We did a lot of discussion, engaging and making the texts relevant. We just needed to slow it down and chop it up a bit,” Gorsetman said. “It’s also a class on Jewish values, reestablishing those values and sharing experiences and thoughts,” she added. “The Melton curriculum is all about listening to each other.”

Although Melton adult education classes usually cost several hundred dollars, this series is underwritten and offered at steeply reduced rates. The first semester had nine students enrolled, many participating with a parent or caregiver, and 17 signed up for the current classes, which are offered in the evening to accommodate students who work during the day.

“We’re at the beginning stages. We’re in talks with the Florence Melton School to develop a curriculum for this community of adults and a faculty guide to train Melton teachers to teach these classes, and get other Melton directors to offer this to their communities all around the world,” she said. “We have not even begun.”

Read more at The Forward.

Updated: Apr. 20, 2021