Volume 33 Number 07
                 Produced: Fri Aug 11  5:15:20 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Disabilities, disturbances and shul (7)
         [Rise Goldstein, Stephen Colman, Yosef Stern, Yisrael Medad,
Stuart Wise, Russell Hendel, Catherine S. Perel]
L. D. Schools (was Chumrot)
         [Catherine S. Perel]
Megilas Eicha
         [Gershon Dubin]


From: Rise Goldstein <Rbg29861@...>
Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2000 06:06:42 EDT
Subject: Disabilities, disturbances and shul

Chaim Shapiro wrote:

>  At what point should Shul say that they cannot tolerate the 
>  disturbances an individual with a disability makes?  {...snip...}
>  To my thinking, a disability is a disability, tourette's syndrome is no
>  different.  The only difference is in how others react to it.  {...snip...}
>  Yes, it may seem "weird" or slightly uncomfortable.  But again, 
>  that is not the issue of the disabled person. It is the issue of those
>  of those around him {...snip...}

With all due respect to Chaim, and to the offlist e-mail exchanges he
and I have had related to similar issues, I would note that the
situation isn't necessarily so simple.  To the extent that the
disability "merely" causes behavior that is " 'weird' or slightly
uncomfortable" to those around the affected individual, there is, IMHO,
ample room for a "loading dose" of sensitivity training directed at, and
reasonable accommodation by, the rest of the qehillah.  Again IMHO, and
from my professional perspective as a mental health and substance abuse
researcher, some of this is LONG overdue.

However, what about disruptive behavior, whether or not related to
disability, that severely affects the ability of others to concentrate
on davening, to hear qeri'at haTorah, to hear every word of megillat
Esther, etc.?  That makes it literally impossible for the mara d'atra to
complete his drasha?  One example that comes readily to mind is children
with such severe attention deficit/hyperactivity disorders that they
cannot stay seated regardless of the strictness of parental control,
with or without medication, so they run noisily up and down the aisles
of the bet knesset.  And, what about the admittedly RARE individual
whose psychiatric/behavioral disability makes her or him prone to
unpredictable, uncontrollable explosions of rage and violence?

How about individuals of any age who are incontinent, resulting in
extremely obvious and offensive odors?  As an aside regarding this
issue, in one of the many cities I've inhabited over my nomadic adult
life, when that city got its eruv, a particular rav forbade parents to
bring to the bet knesset children who were not fully and reliably toilet

I could go on with other examples, but I think I've made my point.
IMHO, it's high time we do better about accepting those in our world who
don't neatly fit into the cookie cutters fashioned by certain of our
more vocal elements.  However, we also need to define more clearly the
boundaries beyond which acceptance and accommodation may not be the best
solutions and to come up with more workable ones for those

Rise Goldstein (<Rbg29861@...>)
Silver Spring, MD

From: Stephen Colman <stephen.colman@...>
Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2000 12:09:13 +0100
Subject: Disabilities, disturbances and shul

Chaim Shapiro has brought up a very emotive subject. Yes, any caring Jew
would surely welcome another - disabled - Jew to his Shul to daven with
him - and in many ways, the 'feel good factor' could even help ones
devotion in Tefillah.


In the example given there are definitely other issues.  A disability
such as tourette's syndrome with corprolalia, must (& I have not
witnessed this myself) be a very disturbing and Kavonoh (concentration)
breaking disruption to ones's Tefillah. I know that for myself at least,
for the little enough time spent in Shul, attaining an acceptable level
of concentration is difficult enough.

[Uncaring Meshulochim who constantly barge in to ones tefillos
regardless of where you are up to, (Ok they tend to leave you alone
whilst the Amido is being said) pushing a letter into your face with one
hand and rattling coins in the other hand, is one unacceptable
interruption that one is faced on a daily basis (Phew - got that off my
chest !!) ]

How do we regard and react to a person with an illness such as tourettes
? Hopefully with understanding - but this still does not help our
ability to concentrate on davenning. There must be an element of
selfishness here. I know that should such a sufferer start to daven
regularly in my minyan - although I would try to make him welcome, the
truth is that (& I do say this with some embarrassment) I would probably
be forced to daven elsewhere (And I am talking specifically about the
type of disability mention by Chaim). On the other hand, if the
community is holding a special Shabbos where people with all types of
disabilities are welcomed and everybody is aware of it - that is highly
commendable - and perhaps the sufferers will not feel self-conscious -
because the sufferer himself must surely know that he is going to be the
cause of major interruption, and probably would not want to be so.

You really cannot, however, compare a person in a wheelchair or who is
blind to a sufferer of tourette's. The continuing prescent of the former
does not constitute an ongoing disturbance - as oppossed to the latter.

As I am writing this I am also wondering whether there may be another
issue - that of Halochoh. Does an obscenety yelled in the middle of
Davenning - by whoever - possibly with the Aron Hakodesh open or even
Sefer Torah out cause any halochic problem (Mius) ?


From: Yosef Stern <meyoz11@...>
Date: Thu, 03 Aug 2000 00:44:23 EDT
Subject: Disabilities, disturbances and shul

Aren't children an integral part of Klal Yisroel, yet children who make 
noises in shul and disturb the congregation are not supposed to be brought 
to shul (Mishnah Berurah 124:28).
Furthermore, the Prishah in O.C. chapter 101 says, that someone who cannot 
concentrate davenning silently, should daven in his house and not come  to 
the shul to disturb the congregation. (see shulchan aruch O.C. 101:2 that 
disturbing a congregation is a forbidden act).

Yosef Stern

From: Yisrael Medad <isrmedia@...>
Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2000 19:14:26 +0300
Subject: Disabilities, disturbances and shul

Re: Chaim Shapiro's posting-
>At what point should Shul say that they cannot tolerate the
>disturbances an individual with a disability makes? ...  The only
>difference is in how others react to it.  Yes, people may feel
>uncomfortable Davening with a person saying things they do not expect
>to here in a Shul, however, that discomfort is with the other members
>not the individual with tourette's.  Think back to the first time you
>saw someone in a wheelchair, or an individual who was completely blind.

may I just say that the point is that a "disturbance" (however defined,
but probably one that makes noise and interferes in your own davening
and of others - although the Halacha defines other "disturbances" such
as feces or other bodily discharges) is dependent not on whether the
person doing the distrubance is mentally or physically incapacitated.
To demand special consideration because of incapacity, I would think, is
a non-consideration.  A healthy person making a disturbance is as wrong
as someone suffering from Turette's Syndrome + coprolalia.

From: Stuart Wise <swise@...>
Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2000 10:02:50 -0700
Subject: Re: Disabilities, disturbances and shul

There is a shul in my Brooklyn neighborhood that is often visited by men
from a home for mentally disabled men.  They are generally quiet, except
for an occasional outburst.  But if you will forgive my cynicism, so
many shuls have too much talking that raise the noise level somewhat. I
can't imagine that an occasional outburst by someone with tourette's
syndrome would be worthy of concern.

From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2000 19:24:23 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: RE: Disabilities, disturbances and shul

Chaim asked this question a few years ago. At the time many answers were
submitted. In particular I suggested distinguishing between disturbances
of prayer and eg disturbances of learning or the Rabbis sermon or of eg

My contention was that the essence of prayer is to be aware of how
helpless you are and to ask God for help---the goal of prayer is not, as
is sometimes commonly thought to concentrate on each word.

Hence hearing other peoples disturbances INCREASES CONCENTRATION DURING
PRAYER. Because I am reminded of mans potential helplessness I therefore
pray to God both that (a) they may be cured (b) that I should not become
sick like them and ( c ) if I do become sick like them that others
should tolerate me the way I tolerate them

Russell Jay Hendel; Phd ASA; <rhendel@...>
Moderator Rashi is Simple
http://www.RashiYomi.Com  -------------NEW NEW CHECK IT OUT

From: Catherine S. Perel <perel@...>
Date: Thu, 3 Aug 2000 01:33:57 -0500
Subject: Re: Disabilities, disturbances and shul

On Monday 17 July 2000, Chaim Shapiro  <Dagoobster@...> wrote:

> Recently, my shul in North Hollywood, CA, has invited the
> participation of several young men with moderate to severe
> developmental/mental disabilities.

A grand mitzvah to be sure.

> ... the kehilla as a whole, and the rabbis in particular must be
> commended for realizing that these young men are an integral part of
> Klal Yisroel, and belong in the Shul as much as anyone else.

I applaud the kehilla and the rabbis.  The disabled are excluded so
often by society, that it doubly stings when it emanates from their own
people, Klal Yisroel.  It hurts because it is unexpected.  It is
unexpected, for who would expect it from those who are specifically
commanded not "to put a stumbling block before the blind."  Aside from
that, it is probably more difficult for them to learn to daven than

So, Chaim queries:

> At what point should Shul say that they cannot tolerate the
> disturbances an individual with a dis- ability makes?  Take for
> example, a person with [T]ourette's syndrome ....  ... a small
> minority of those with [T]ourette's syn- drome have what's called
> corprolalia, an uncon- trollable need to say, or possibly yell
> obscenities.

Some people with Tourette's Syndrome take great efforts to suppress
their corprolalia, which makes it very explosive when Shachrit and Musaf
are completed.  Imagine the degree of kavanah it takes to do so.
After the service, if they wish, they could be taken, without judgment,
to a private room where they can loosen their control.  Start with a
rabbi and have it in place.  (All this need, of course, be the decision
of the individual involved.)  With rotation, friendships and
understanding can begin.  We know you fear us.  We feel it.  Isaiah
said, "My house shall be a house for all peoples."  Are we or aren't we
eligible for that inclusion?  When excluded, make no mistake, we know
why -- and that "why" hurts, searing the soul with pain for fulfilling

Remember, too, the Shoah did not start with the Jews.  It started with
the disabled.

> To my thinking, a disability is a disability, [T]ourette's syndrome is
> no different.  The only difference is in how others react to it.

Precisely!  I have a disability.  Society -- both religious and secular
-- has made me handicapped.

> Think back to the first time you saw someone in a wheelchair, or an
> individual who was completely blind.  Chances are very strong you were
> scared or set back by it.  However, as time passes, one grows used to
> it.

Hope springs eternal only to be dashed on the rocks of reality.  I do
not know Mr. Shapiro, nor whether he is disabled, but in my 22 years of
experience, the passage of time is not what causes one to get "used to
it."  It is interaction that does so -- though, no one ever gets "used
to it" -- disabled or not.  Nor should they.

I do so welcome Mr. Shapiro's letters, for they help bring to the fore
that which every religion ignores.

Catherine S. Perel


From: Catherine S. Perel <perel@...>
Date: Mon, 24 Jul 2000 04:11:41 -0500
Subject: Re:  L. D. Schools (was Chumrot)

In Volume 32, #98, wrote

> I feel enraged every time I read about Yeshiva administrators
> referring to special ed kids as "garbage," or "problem kids"....

I'm sorry.  This differs in what manner from secular schools?

As a person with a physical disability (quadriplegia) and a prescription
drug induced learning disability involving language acquisition, in any
language -- including English, and short-term memory problems, I see
nothing in the treatment between the two groups which differs in the
slightest, despite scholastic achievement.

> These are kids like all others, and need to be treated as such.
> American Torah education must belong to all of our youth, as all are
> integral parts of the Frum community.

Absolutely correct.  They are owed it, and HaShem commands us to teach
it diligently to our children -- not diligently to our children who
don't have learning disabilities.

> I have seen Yeshiva students act in a detestable manner toward
> children with disabilities, simply because of their disabilities.  It
> is a sad state of affairs.  Public school kids, who ironically will
> literally kill one another, would never, ever dream of taunting a
> child with a handicap or special needs.

Sorry, again there is no difference in behavior between Yeshiva students
and public school students, though there should be.  The stories I could
tell from personal experience would shock you.  The physical and
emotional toll I paid, keeps me up at nights.

> Where this Frum attitude comes from I don't know.  I do believe a
> program of inclusion, will at least put us on the track toward solving
> this anomaly.

First, this Frum attitude isn't an anomaly.  It is the norm across the
spectrum in America, and other countries as well.  It comes from
ignorance and an uncaring attitude.  Second, if anyone wants to develop
such a curriculum, let me know.

   Catherine S. Perel


From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Thu, 10 Aug 2000 21:52:53 -0400
Subject: Megilas Eicha

Our shul has a new megilas Eicha,  which is written in a way I have never
seen:  each posuk is a parasha unto itself (I think stuma,  but I did
have to lein).  Has anyone seen this or have an explanation?



End of Volume 33 Issue 7