In the few days since I have launched the website and uploaded final drafts, I have been pleased to see the welcoming response to the concept of my books.  We also ran headlong into the brick wall of exclusion once again.  How many of you readers find it amazing that somehow people with disabilities are almost never included in such concepts as "community of faith", "congregation", and church/synagogue/mosque, unless we are indistinguishable from everyone else?  While systematically excluding for whatever "practical" reasons, those in authority or control err on the side of convenience, comfort zone, majority rule. 
 
    I invite my readers to get copies of the discussion guide and share the included textual materials in your communities -- then asking , as appropriate, "What would Jesus do?"  "What would Moses do?" " What would Mohamed do -- after he was admonished about ignoring the blind man?"  Yes, that takes chutzpah (gall, guts or supreme ignorance of the pecking order) but without chutzpah, how can society move forward out of its comfort zone?
    

 
 
    While this project, committing a photography exhibit to book format and following its images and words to their perhaps-logical conclusions has been trying to take over my life, that life goes on.  We continue to struggle around here with the realities of inclusion (or not).  Rafi, who was 11 when this project began and is now 14, celebrated being called to the Torah, at just short of 14.  His birthday is on Erev Rosh Hashana, which can be a tricky time to schedule a Simcha (celebration).  Being ourselves, we worked with him through the entire "Bar Mitzvah" year, with such educational and identity formation bits as six weeks in Israel on a shoestring, a day camp experience including community service, and a transition back and forth between synagogues, as we found that inclusion is truly a difficult concept for most "normal" people to grasp.
    
    I am reminded of when Rafi was a couple of years younger, and I tried to attend a "new age Chassidic" prayer group once a month.  The coordinator of this group, who really does think of himself as a spiritual person, I am sure, asked that we not return as Rafi's noise kept people from being able to enter into meditative states.  In the interest of peace at the time, I did not say what first came into my head -- which was:
     "And how do you know that the Almighty did not send Rafi as a test, to see if your compassion could overcome your need for order, or to assess your real ability to enter into meditation?"  

I have been kicking myself about that ever since.