Bar/Bat Mitzvah Ceremony for Disabled Adults
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"They wanted to show who they are and what they can do and to be appreciated," said Jewish Life Coordinator, Elliot Fix.
Preparing for a Bar Mitzvah takes a great deal of discipline and religious study.
"Then you're considered a full responsible member of the community and in terms of Judaism now your responsible to fill certain commandments in the religion," said Fix.
Traditionally this occurs at age 13, but for a group of twenty Jewish adults with developmental disabilities, the challenges were even greater. Ranging from 29 to 70 years old, they were able to take a pivotal step in their faith.
Elliot Fix has spent the last thirteen years teaching these students. During Saturday's ceremony, they recited prayers before each Torah reading and took part in other ceremonial duties.
"I was very excited, I did an excellent job, everybody was very pleased with me," said Judy Metzger, who took part in Saturday's Bat Mitzvah.
Sue's son Eric lives in a group home and is well known in the Jewish community through his volunteer work.
"He also has one job that he does get paid for, he gets a gift card, which he usually spends at Hess. Sometimes he calls Bingo, he likes doing that," said Sue Eisenberg, a parent of one of the men who attended the Bar Mitzvah.
For these proud parents, the ceremony showed what disabled adults can accomplish when given the opportunity.
"Most people lump people with disabilities together. People with disabilities are like everyone else. They have their strengths and they have their weaknesses," said Shelly Gebbell, who daughter took part in the Bat Mitzvah for the first time.
Parents say the ceremony was a bit nerve-wracking but afterwards,
"My daughter was raising her hands up, celebrating," said Gebbell.
And for the first time, they stood alongside members of the Jewish faith, as an adult.