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Kvells Come From Chaverim, for Developmentally Disabled Adults

About 2 years ago, Congregation Or Ami opened its arms to Chaverim, a program for developmentally disabled adults age 18 to 88. In the months since we easily agreed to become Chaverim’s Valley synagogue, we have enjoyed a harmonious relationship.

Rabbi Deborah Goldmann, the Chaverim program rabbi, wrote this note, reflecting upon our sacred relationship:

Dear Paul,
Thank you for making Chaverim feel so welcome at Or Ami. I was so impressed and awed by how inclusive and welcoming your community is that I can hardly stop talking about it. 

So I realized that I should share my thoughts with you too! 

  • Having the space for our Chaverim Shabbat dinners. Dayeinu! (That would have been enough)
  • Being made to feel welcome by our liaisons. Dayeinu!
  • Being made to feel welcome by the ushers who greeted us with the same excitement that she greeted everyone else at Temple. Dayeinu!
  • Seing one of our Chaverim members constantly changing seats in the sanctuary, asking all kinds of questions, and none of the other Or Ami members batting an eye about it. Dayeinu!
  • Being welcomed into the community along with the other new temple members during services. Dayeinu! 

Any one of those things on their own would have been wonderful, but that your community did so much more is truly inspiring and awesome!  

I love working with Chaverim but much of what we do is on our own. Thank you and thanks to Or Ami, I now know what inclusion looks like.   

Looking forward to many wonderful years together.  Thank you for all you do! 


For Congregation Or Ami, inclusiveness has always been a primary value of our community. Our website speaks directly to how openly we welcome people with disabilities, multiracial and multiethnic individuals and families, interfaith couples and families, LGBT individuals and families and others. It is not such a special thing, because isn’t that what a community is supposed to be like?

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