Special Needs and Disabilities

At the core of Beth El’s caring culture is our commitment to accommodate the special needs of congregants and guests facing physical or mental health challenges or impairment. Several wheelchairs are available at the entrance to the synagogue to assist people to make their way to services or other areas of the building. We offer lifts and ramps the main sanctuary and in the chapel to enable individuals needing a wheel chair, walker or cane to go up on the Bimah for Aliyahs, special prayers or other reasons. This element of accessibility is especially appreciated by grandparents or older relatives of B’nai Mitzvah who have their hearts set on participating in such a blessed life cycle event. We offer amplifying devices to enable hearing impaired individuals to appreciate more fully religious services and secular discussions. We have large print prayer books for those experiencing eyesight problems. We have a telephone number for people who cannot be at services to call and listen to them live.

Our clergy and staff devote special attention to creating uniquely tailored services for B’nai Mitzvah who confront physical or mental health challenges that make a typical service surpassingly difficult. Their objective is to create an experience that will be memorably meaningful while at the same time comfortable for the child and his or her entire family and loving friends.

In addition, Beth El and JSSA (Jewish Social Service Agency) are partners in helping Beth El congregants with personal and family issues. Synagogue liaison Shoshana Pearlman, LCSW-C, is an experienced clinician who can offer support, guidance, strategies, and referrals by phone or in person. All services are free and confidential. You may contact Juliet by phone: (301) 816-2695 or at spearlman@jssa.org.

B’ruchim Habaim Committee

Our mission is to welcome and accommodate people with disabilities and their families, in our synagogue and in the Jewish community.

Some of what Beth El offers makes everyone welcome at Beth El and some is intended specifically for those with special needs or disabilities.

  • We offer programs for senior citizens through our Senior Caucus.
  • Our Chesed (“Kindness”) committee reaches out to those dealing with illness (as well as bereavement).
  • Kesher Nashim (“Women’s Connection”) supports female cancer survivors.
  • Honor Thy (Aging) Parents supports those who are now the caretakers of their parents.

B’ruchim Habaim sponsors a monthly support group for parents or grandparents of children with disabilities, called Cherish Thy (Special Needs) Child. Our JSSA liaison, a licensed clinical social worker, is the facilitator.

Beth El has a Disabled Access Fund to which donations can be directed. Beth El is also a co-sponsor of the biennial Partnership for Jewish Life and Learning “Opening the Gates of Torah: Including People with Disabilities in the Jewish Community” conference.

The Beth El B’ruchim Habaim committee was formed in early summer 2005. We are proud of the progress we’ve made in addressing physical barriers and communication issues. We are turning our focus toward welcoming people with mental illness and people on the autism spectrum.

If you have concerns about a family member’s special needs or disabilities affecting community attitudes or creating social barriers, please call the main office at (301) 652-2606 or email info@bethelmc.org and ask to be put in touch with the B’ruchim Habaim committee.

B’ruchim Habaim
(301) 652-2606

Ellen Levin, LICSW, LICSW-C
(301) 610-8332