Praying with Lior: Religious Education of a Special Needs Boy

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The film “Praying with Lior” produced and directed by Ilana Trachtman is the story of a young Jewish boy with Down’s Syndrome who is approaching his Bar Mitzva. This film caught my eye because I too have a special needs child and often struggle with how much he understands about having a relationship with a higher power. What struck me most about this story was how joyful both Lior and his community seemed to be in their faith. The acceptance and understanding that surrounds him seemed to be a wonderful example of living faith. In our studies I found it interesting that the Jewish faith does encourage living the religion in daily life. This film shows that life to be simple and normal while very joyful and full. The Jewish religion also teaches that all should study the Torah, and all should be included according to their ability. This film is a wonderful example of this in practice. Lior’s family consists of his father, step mother (his own mother passed away from cancer when he was very young, and older sister and brother, and a younger sister. They are reconstructionist Jews as they use all modern dress and lifestyle, women and men sit together in the synagog and there is even a female rabbi. The community that surrounds them follows what they believe to be God’s teaching of inclusion. Even the children at his Jewish Day school include him in class activities, and talk candidly about his difference without derision. In our text readings we learned about the trials and suffering that the Jewish people have gone through over the centuries. Watching this film I could not help but wonder if this fostered the sense of acceptance I saw. However there are also many teachings and quotes from the bible that the Jewish faith uses to support this view. These are a few of them that I found on a website promoting inclusion in the

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