Sunday, April 1
Pesach is upon us, and if you arent sure this is the Jewish Passover festival. Its the time where we remember and tell the story of Moses taking the slaves and escaping from Egypt. Now normally we would go to visit one of my husbands cousins who usually puts on a huge feast and members of the family come and gather and its a good time had by all. Well sort of I suppose, although most of me is having a good time, a little bit of me knows its one of a few times in the year when I become the family curiosity. Its the time when I'm told, "but you look so well,"... "tsk tsk, cant they do anything"... you know the same old thing over and over again that just makes me squirm. Of course pregnancy offers even greater novelty value at the moment as you can imagine. So I'm hugely relieved that this year we are staying at home and doing our own thing. I'm too tired to socialise at 8 months, well that's my excuse anyway.
So that got me thinking, and you know, Ive realised its really rare to come across disabled people within the Jewish community so where are they all hiding? Just to clarify I'm referring to physical disabilities and younger people rather than the retired. Ive met one or 2 blind or deaf people over the years, but hardly ever anyone in a chair. So are they being hidden perhaps albeit unconsciously? Now the Jewish community has a great record for charitable work and looking after people, well if you live in London or Manchester anyway, but I do wonder if people are sitting in their homes unable to go to any of the Jewish places you might want to frequent. What Ive noticed is this. If you walk along say Golders Green High St and look at all the places there, nearly all of them have steps to get in, and that's just the shops and cafes. If you want to go to a religious establishment, loads of them are on upstairs floors with no lift, and amazingly should you want to go to synagogue, your chances of getting inside one are remote to say the least. As a woman its even worse for me, but that's not an argument I'm getting involved with. So I wonder if it might be better for some of the Jewish charities to actually stop providing care for people who could manage on their own most of the time, like me for instance and look at the wider issue of access in the community. There are always ways and means, and to say that synagogues cant afford to put in disabled access is pretty poor, I mean who would believe that? I suspect that the main reason it hasn't been dealt with is that it just hasn't been thought of. No one has raised the issue. Paternalism is our biggest handicap, said one of my friends, and I agree for the most part, its about time the Jewish community came up with a charity called Jewish-Do, lets go and Do for all the community not just a few.
Ok that's my sermon done for the week, I'm off to munch Matzah for 8 days, mmmmmmmm!!