To celebrate the awesome experience when our member Brandon became a Bar Mitzvah, we have established the Brandon Kaplan Honoray Special Needs Fund of Congregation Or Ami. The Fund serves to:
Click here to find out how to make a donation to the Brandon Kaplan Honorary Special Needs fund. You may also open a discussion with
Rabbi Kipnes about how to offer family foundation support to the Fund.
Rabbi Paul Kipnes teaches that "There is a sense that children with special needs, physically, emotionally, mentally, don't have a place in the synagogue, in the Jewish community. That's just not true, particularly here at Or Ami. We have celebrated B'nai Mitzvah services with children with autism, emotional developmental problems, intense dyslexia, Tourette's syndrome... The Torah and Judaism are available for all of us."
Or Ami emphasizes that no matter what a child's needs are, it's never a question of ifa child can become a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, it'swhen the ceremony will take place.
Rabbi Kipnes explains, "With special needs children, there are two values being played out, simultaneously. Working with Brandon Kaplan, for instance, we saw that Brandon is a kid like any other kid created in the image of God, worthy of love. But Brandon is also a special kid and there is an honor and joy to the congregation that he participates to the fullness of his abilities. So he's normal and special, but here's the secret: so is every other kid."
On February 9, 1994 my son, Brandon, was born. Dina and I immediately recognized that something was different about this child, as he had a visible disability. Within an hour the pediatrician walked into Dina’s hospital room and told us that there was a problem with the baby. I listened as he described Brandon’s rocker bottom feet, short neck, wide set eyes and a simian crease on his hand. Through the fog that just settled upon us, Dina and I observed a parade of specialists who examined Brandon, each radiated an aura of doom and gloom, and each gave us the comforting three word report, “I don’t know.”
Months later, as the High Holy Days approached I was prepared to go the synagogue to ask God why he did this to us. Why did he take a child, who was supposed to be perfect, and burden him – and us – with so many disabilities?
But then a very pivotal event happened at the Kaplan household. I awoke one morning and looked up at Dina’s smiling face. Dina looked at me and said “Michael, I finally realized that Brandon didn’t happen to us. Brandon happened for us.” Read more
In case you were interested in more...
The Or Ami Center for Jewish Parenting Support Group meets twice a month, mainly on Sunday mornings 10:00 – 11:30 am.
Some meetings will be on Thursday evenings at 7:00 pm. Thursday meetings held in collaboration with the K.E.N. Project.
The group offers support and valuable information to parents, relatives and others who support children with special needs.
Child care is available on Sunday mornings.
For more information click here.
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Congregation Or Ami26115 Mureau Road, Suite BCalabasas, CA 91302
P: (818) 880-4880 F: (818) 880-2290