Nathan Weissler and Asperger Syndrome

I'm sorry that it has been a while since I last posted. I no longer have the luxury of writing from Israel!

This past shabbat in shul we had the honor of hearing from Nathan Weissler. Nathan is a student in the SULAM program - a school for Jewish students with varying learning disabilities - and he has Asperger Syndrome. Asperger's makes it difficult for him to sit for long periods of time and his social skills are affected. Nathan shared his experiences of his own shul and education and it was quite moving.

As I said in my introduction, though we refer to people with special needs, it really is an inadequate and perhaps even a demeaning term. It's not fair to separate some just because they don't seem to be "normal". What is "normal" any way? All of us have some kind of need - emotional, financial, educational, psychological, etc. - and all of us need the support of the community in order to feel fulfilled. It's important for us to be aware of that and not just focus on the more obvious or typical needs. The day should come when the Jewish community recognizes that and then focuses its eduactional and financial goals appropriately.