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20 Year Old Matthew Leads Service Celebrating Exceptional Children

Sometimes you get a letter that lets you know the community is doing it right. This from Matthew’s mom:

March 2008 Dear Rabbi Paul, Thank you so much for including Matthew in the amazing Shabbat service celebrating people with special needs. It was so gratifying on several levels As you know, Matthew is 20-years- old and has Fragile X Syndrome. Part of what I was looking for in joining Congregation Or Ami was providing a community for supporting Matthew as he grows into adulthood and moves beyond the ready-made community of school. I knew that COA had a reputation of welcoming families with special needs children. And that has turned out to be so. When you have a child with disabilities, you frequently feel like an outsider, so to feel a part of is a wonderful feeling. So when you asked Matthew to participate in the Special Needs service, I was thrilled for the opportunity. I was even more thrilled when Matthew responded to your request, saying “ I would be honored.” Nervous though he was, he rose to the occasion and sang the blessings beautifully, with the flair of his personality shining through. I was so touched by your attention to him, allowing him to be himself, and by the presence of Brandon and Michael Kaplan on the bimah with him. Matthew, like the rest of us, feels a sense of purpose when he has an important role to play, rather than being an observer, as our special needs children often are. It is my fervent hope that Matthew will continue to play a part at COA and that his love of Judaism will grow. Thank you for helping us to find our home. Shalom, Diane Smith Matthew Simon’s proud mom

One comment

  1. Long Island says:

    My husband Sandy and I have been married for 25 years. Between that and 3 kids and numerous homes, we found Or Ami and I must say thank you to each and every one of you. I have never met a warmer group of people who honestly care so much about each other. If “It takes a village,” this is the village we have chosen. From the moment we went to our first service, we felt like an instant family and this is because each and every one of you makes sure that everyone feels welcome. Thank you all, for making us feel this way. We can’t thank you enough.
    With much love,
    The Stock family

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