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How One Family is changing the Way we see Down syndrome

Recently an article was written about my family on Living the Treaty Life.

Imagine for a moment, selecting a preschool for your child. You go through all the options, make enquiries and schedule…

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Added by Jodi on October 20, 2014 at 3:57pm — No Comments

Have You Heard Our Exciting News?

You may have heard our exciting news… The Samuels family is moving to Israel. Gavin has accepted an offer to work there for the year. We are moving this week so the kids can maximize the school year.

This has all happened very suddenly as we only found out on Sept 19th that we would be able to go so soon. This is fitting though, as it is typical “Jodi Style” … 23 years of talking about living in Israel, spending entire summers in Israel and then…

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Added by Jodi on October 4, 2014 at 5:00pm — No Comments

All Down Syndrome Babies Should Be Killed

Mid-August to October is the hardest time for any special needs mom.  It’s the time when one starts fighting for the services from the Department of Education that are mandated for your children, but have to be fought for anyway. It’s the time when you feel the indifference of the bureaucracy, yet to you and your family, every decision and every choice means so much to the special soul that you are advocating for.…

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Added by Jodi on September 14, 2014 at 12:00pm — No Comments

A Real Disconnect

We have just concluded our 10 week summer vacation to Israel. We also stopped in Cypress, Berlin and a short side trip to Poland so that Meron can try meet his goal of 30 countries before his Barmitzvah  next year.



Yesterday we were on a train packed with backpackers.  It brought back lots of memories from my free spirited and crazy treks in Europe.  The good old days when I thought I was anonymous in society and that my actions had no consequences.  I have crazy…

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Added by Jodi on September 2, 2014 at 4:15pm — No Comments

A Broken promise

Last night I was standing with Gavin watching a concert in Tzefat.  We are here for the Klezmer festival one of our favorite summer activities.



We were sitting on a low wall on the side when a group of religious guys came up to Gavin.  The one guy started explaining something to Gavin and I could see gesturing and nodding and then they left and Gavin had a smile on his face. I asked Gavin what they wanted. Apparently one of the guys had made a promise that he…

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Added by Jodi on August 19, 2014 at 2:30am — No Comments

My Israel

I have been in Israel for seven weeks now and I have been struggling with a blog post. My struggle has been around the fact that I have so many ideas and so much to say that I could not find just one topic to focus on. I have experienced a country of unprecedented unity, a country at war, country mourning its dead and a people so resilient that life goes on no matter what the challenges.

Today, I read a heartfelt letter from a NY acquaintance that has spent 7 months in Jerusalem. She…

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Added by Jodi on August 6, 2014 at 4:30pm — No Comments

What I Love About Israel

It’s been surreal being here through the sirens. After each siren I marvel how people just continue with life. It so Israeli – and I can only imagine the contrast in any US city if there was just one rocket. The city would be in lock down with mass hysteria.

There are many more subtle things that I appreciate too. This issue closest to my heart is how much more integrated special needs people are in society. I only have to reflect on my experiences dealing with summer camp. The answer…

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Added by Jodi on July 15, 2014 at 3:05pm — No Comments

This is My Dream for Caily

The world is small and HaShem works in mysterious ways. We have been coming to Israel for many years and renting the same apartment each summer. 

When Caily was born I was referred to Aish.com to read an article about a family who have a daughter with Down syndrome. The apartment has a guest book and I realized the names in the guest book were the same as the family. I reached out to the mom and she has been my guide since.…
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Added by Jodi on July 7, 2014 at 4:00pm — No Comments

Reflecting on inclusion

As the school year ends I look at Caily with so much pride, she has achieved so much. Inside I tremble with fear. 
I have always known that the younger years were going to be easier. Caily is very cute but cute only gets you through to a certain age. When your kid with special needs is…
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Added by Jodi on June 21, 2014 at 2:00pm — No Comments

Average can be great

My daughter Temira, age 10, frequently makes comments that are both wise beyond her years and highly amusing. Last week she said "Imma, why do the single girls we know always say they want a cute guy. They should just marry someone like Abba - he is just average - not good looking not bad looking but a great father and good husband." Needless to say this quote, when I posted on Facebook, received a huge amount of viral coverage because her comment is true not just for dating but so many…

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Added by Jodi on June 12, 2014 at 11:00pm — 1 Comment

Bringing light and goodness in the face of devastation

Last week, our dear friends suffered a terrible tragedy – they lost their 3 month old son to SIDS. Its every parent’s worst nightmare to wake up and see that there baby is not breathing. The family then suffered a double tragedy when the 49 year old grandmother of the 3 month old, suddenly passed away while the family were sitting shiva. An absolutely devastating story.

A few days later I received hate mail targeted at my organization and me and some of our best volunteers. The person…

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Added by Jodi on June 1, 2014 at 8:30am — No Comments

Paying it forward

Over Shabbat, we had the son of long-time family friends stay. We had not seen him for 20 years and he had no idea how much parents had impacted my life and the life of my family.

 

During the first Gulf War, I was in Israel for my year after high-school and when the war broke and the threat of scud missiles raining down on Israel became a real concern, my parents insisted I leave Israel and despite my…

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Added by Jodi on May 20, 2014 at 3:00pm — No Comments

Where is the compassion and respect?

I had a busy and interesting weekend. On Saturday I participated in a charity walk around Manhattan. It is a 32 mile (50km) walk on the shorefront. I walked for 12hrs and most of the walk is pretty and gives you an interesting perspective of Manhattan.

While I was tired I managed most of the walk without stress but the last 6 miles are very hard as the exhaustion hits, every muscle hurts and my feet were burning. As it was Shabbat I was not carrying a bag and relying on public…

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Added by Jodi on May 7, 2014 at 5:00pm — 1 Comment

A mom to be asked me my opinion on genetic testing

This week, a close friend who has struggled to become pregnant expressed her dilemma on deciding whether to do genetic testing on the baby she is carrying. She knows us well and Caily too and her concerns were not only about the low risk of miscarriage from an amniocentesis but also what she would do in the event of a positive testing for Down syndrome. Furthermore all the testing in the world does not identify so many issues including the most common developmental disorder…

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Added by Jodi on April 25, 2014 at 11:57am — No Comments

Can you help me?

When I lived in South Africa I used to take school-aged kids with limited Jewish backgrounds on away Shabbatons. Part of the programing was an activity where Judaism is shown in museum of the future as an old religion that is no longer around. The message was that if we do not care about your heritage then one day our grandchildren will walk through a museum of Judaism as Jewish life will cease to exist. Cute activity but in South Africa 20 years ago there was very little assimilation and…

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Added by Jodi on April 8, 2014 at 12:32pm — No Comments

My Personal Mission

On Shabbat we took a JICNY group to Crown Heights for Shabbat. We were privileged to hear Rabbi Simon Jacobson speak about having a purposeful life and he said that each person should know what their personal mission in life is. He spoke about the crises in our modern world with so many unhappy people and so many people relying on therapy. His suggested the anti-dote is that people should know what their personal mission in the world is -…

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Added by Jodi on March 26, 2014 at 7:00pm — No Comments

Preaching to the Choir

I attended the “Reel Abilities” Film Festival at the JCC in Manhattan. This festival is unique in that all the movies share a common theme and focus on people with various kinds of disabilities – physical, cognitive or psychiatric; genetic, congenital or acquired.

I love these movies as they give me a different perspective on the world and educates me on those forms of disabilities that I am not as familiar with.

As one on the opening night speakers said of the festival, "It…

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Added by Jodi on March 13, 2014 at 8:30am — No Comments

Who loves me?

Every night, when we put Caila to sleep, after her bedtime story,the last thing she asks us to do is to go through a list of everyone who loves her. We rattle off the names of family, friends, class mates, teachers and therapists. She beams through the whole process and then turns onto a her side with beautiful look of pure content and off to dream land she goes.

Caila feels so loved and accepted. In spite of her challenges she is exceptionally confident and will always offer to lead…

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Added by Jodi on February 25, 2014 at 8:00am — No Comments

America the beautiful - my favorite travel destinations

Recently I have travelled a lot even by my standards, I was in North Carolina, home 1 week then Miami, home a week and then South Africa for a family visit that included 17 hrs flight each way and 3 nights on the ground. Home a week and for my kids' winter break we are now in Arizona. Gavin and I realize that we have an unusual set up where we both can work from anywhere and we also make use of the miles and hotel points acquired on Gavin's frequent business travel. …

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Added by Jodi on February 14, 2014 at 4:04am — No Comments

My disability awareness

February marks Disability Awareness Month and each year since I have joined this community I see hints of progress. In fact this link shares that even the fashion industry is rethinking the definition of a perfect body. http://www.upworthy.com/i-bet-these-people-never-expected-to-be-models-but-the-results-are-so-gorgeous-2?g=3&c=reccon1

Along with…

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Added by Jodi on February 5, 2014 at 2:00am — No Comments

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