“For my house shall be a house of prayer for ALL people.” Isaiah 56:7
At Beth El we believe that it is important for the entire community to be mindful of the needs of all our members. Many individuals have experienced barriers to full participation in congregational life. We strive to eliminate these barriers with the goal of making all offerings of our congregation available to all members of our community. We celebrate the creativity and unique contributions that everyone brings.
As a Ruderman Foundation Congregational Partner, Congregation Beth El has received recognition and financial assistance for improvements to our building, events and educational programs, with the goal of increasing access for people with disabilities. This has been a collaborative and inclusive effort. A survey of the Congregation’s members received an excellent response from, and provided the roadmap for, numerous modifications and improvements reaching all aspects of the community. This outreach is ongoing; members and visitors are encouraged to identify needs and concerns as they arise.
Large print Machzors (High Holy Days Prayerbook), assistive hearing devices, magnifying reading glasses, fidget/focus tools, fragrance free seating and live streamed Shabbat and holiday services allow full participation for people of all abilities. A custom designed ramp provides wheelchair access to the Gan Ha Dorot (Garden of the Generations) directly from the sanctuary. Flame retardant blinds have been installed in a large classroom in an effort to reduce light and sound distractions and specially designed lighting has been installed to limit the hazard for people with seizure disorders.
On April 29, 2018 we sponsored a program entitled, “Understanding Gender and The Transgender Rights Movement Through a Jewish Lens”. This program helped participants understand gender identity and pronouns in new ways. It provided a starting point for our future conversations about bathrooms at Beth El and our use of pronouns with each other. There will be another program in the fall regarding a ballot initiative that seeks to reverse the gender rights bill that was passed in Massachusetts in 2016.
We will continue to explore ways to make Beth El’s Educational programs more effective for students with different learning needs. Accommodations for people with low vision who wish to read Torah are being explored. Speakers and programs on Inclusion are being planned.
We will be focusing on mental health issues and how we, as a community, can become educated about mental health and most importantly how we can support our members with mental health concerns.
Congregation Beth El strives to be a fully inclusive, warm and welcoming place where everyone is invited to participate fully in the prayer, learning and social life of the community. LGBTQ, straight, and cisgender people are welcome.