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Jodi's Blog (240)

The Real People

I have this mental vision of Caila’s days at school - it’s of someone standing on tipped toes and stretching their arms out. The person does this for hours on end. I am pretty sure this describes Caila’s experience trying to keep up in an inclusion environment.

Many professionals have told us over the years that Caila should also engage with people who have special needs as well. Twice a week she attends an afternoon program with kids who mainly have Down…


Added by Jodi on February 7, 2018 at 3:55pm — No Comments


The past few weeks have been busy for my children and all their peers involved in the Bnei Akiva Youth Movement. My kids eagerly wait for Chodesh Irgun - the month when the leadership transitions to the next group of 15 year old madrichim. The whole month is defined by fun activities and the culmination of this excitement and sleep deprivation is a big weekend that goes from Thursday night to Sunday morning.

Our local Bnei Akiva recently started a group for people with special needs…


Added by Jodi on November 27, 2017 at 12:30pm — No Comments

Real Jewish Mothers

I have always been a working mom. I went back to work when my first child was 6 weeks old. I worked literally until my second child was born. I was so adamant to finish a project that Gavin sat in my office in Manhattan timing my contractions and we went straight to the hospital and I answered emails on my blackberry a few hours post birth.…


Added by Jodi on November 6, 2017 at 4:00pm — No Comments

Twist of Fate

I started writing this blog August in Cuba and we are now in Czech Republic and the same ideas resurfaced. 

Street child or rich kid? Communist or capitalist? Living in war torn terror or an American life of pleasure?…


Added by Jodi on October 15, 2017 at 4:30pm — No Comments

למה בכיתי היום כיפור הזה

ביקשתי כיסא מאוד ספציפי בבית הכנסת. כיסא במעבר אבל עם קו תצפית לחלון.

אני צריכה שתהיה לי אפשרות להשגיח על קיילה, בתי בת ה-9 עם תסמונת דאון, כשהיא משחקת


תמירה, בתי השנייה, בת ה-15, מחליפה איתי משמרות שמירה על קיילה כל 15 דקות, לכן אנו

זקוקות לגישה נוחה אל חצר בית הכנסת.

בכל פעם שהבטתי החוצה מהחלון, ליבי יצא אל קיילה. היא עמדה או ישבה לבד, והפנים שלה נראו

עצובות כל כך. התפקוד של קיילה גבוה במיוחד…


Added by Jodi on October 6, 2017 at 1:30am — No Comments

Why I Cried This Yom Kippur

I requested a very specific seat in shul - an aisle seat but in line with the window. I need to be able to keep an eye on Caila, who is 9 years old with Down syndrome, while she plays outside. Temira, my other daughter who is 13 and I take turns every 15 minutes to go check on Caila and so we need easy access in and out.…


Added by Jodi on October 1, 2017 at 3:00pm — No Comments

Incredible Caila

Caila finished second grade in Israel this week. School has always been challenging for us. Integrating a child in a regular class is hard work. From fighting our way into schools, convincing the schools that Caila has a right to be there, teaching the schools about inclusion and finding the right support staff and professionals. That's just the beginning you then need to deal with curriculum modification, behavior strategies, social integration strategies and educating the administration,…


Added by Jodi on June 28, 2017 at 11:00am — No Comments

Living in the Era of Prophecy

Our Rabbis teach us that Prophecy ended more than 2,000 years ago in the era of Ezra and Nehemiah and it is always surprising and confusing to me how many people today seem to think that they are somehow plugged in to the deepest secrets of the universe and how free they are in sharing in a profoundly authoritative way, how we should interpret events that occur in our lives.


Many years ago we were looking to buy the apartment next door to ours in New York City.  We heard from…


Added by Jodi on May 28, 2017 at 3:23am — No Comments

India Musing

Traveling India is not for the faint hearted. It's magical and mysterious.  It's full of sights and sounds and color.  You are exposed to filth, poverty and masses of humanity. Each new place you arrive in feels like a different country. It tugs on your soul, inspires you and awakens adventure. Our family has a hunger for travel and thirst for information and India provides never ending…


Added by Jodi on April 23, 2017 at 1:00am — No Comments

It's All Perspective

We are on an epic journey with the family in India.  What makes India so special to travel in, is that you are constantly inundated with sights, sounds and colors.  In a small town on one street you will find a Buddhist Monastery, 3 different Hindu Temples all dedicated to different gods and a Sikh Temple.  

We went into a Monastery where hundreds of young Monks were chanting mantras, we were part of thousands walking into the Sikh Temple and we watched hundreds of…


Added by Jodi on April 13, 2017 at 1:00pm — No Comments

A Father's Response to having a Child with Special Needs

Between February being disability awareness month and March 21 being World Down Syndrome awareness day we get lots of people ask us about parenting a child with special needs. A journalist asked my husband for his perspective and this was his response:

Nine years ago, Caila came into our lives. Jodi (my wife) and I had decided not to do invasive prenatal screening and so it was only on her fourth day of life that we leant that Caila has Down syndrome. It was a defining life…


Added by Jodi on March 22, 2017 at 5:00pm — No Comments

Celebrating another year of our amazing Caily

Every year I write a blog for Caila's birthday and I always mention my amazement regarding her achievements. As she gets older my admiration grows more.

Each year it's harder to be Caila:

It's hard to be in a world where there are always such high expectations.

It's hard to be in an adult…


Added by Jodi on February 23, 2017 at 5:30pm — No Comments

Surviving 2 Years in Israel

Today is our two year aliya anniversary. Our kids made a cake and woke us up singing. It's definitely a mile stone worth noting but there is a lot to the story of an idealistic family with a special needs child relocating to a new country with a foreign language and culture.  Meron's comment this morning said it all. "Imma I was worried that you would not appreciate the cake and you would remind us all how hard it is here and how you wish you could go back to New…


Added by Jodi on October 7, 2016 at 5:30am — No Comments

Oh The Places You'll Go

I have travelled far and wide.

Often with my family by my side.

I have slept in hammocks and a hard bed.

I have slept in tents and a bed with a crucifix above my head.

I have slept in the back seat of a car and budget airlines traveling very far.  

I have tried to sleep on a beach, with music blaring all night at a screech. 

I have slept in a park where I was fearful of the dark.

I have slept in overnight coaches and a train station…


Added by Jodi on August 31, 2016 at 9:57am — No Comments

Us and Them

Since moving to Israel in 2014 with my family I have been "living" between 2 countries and 2 cultures.

We recently went on a cruise to Alaska and on a day trip I could not help but notice the Purell culture. Basically everywhere you go in the US you see Purell. The message washing hands prevents spread of germs. I can't help but contrast this with Caila's first day of kindergarten in Israel. I mentioned to the teacher that she does not always wash her hands after…


Added by Jodi on August 22, 2016 at 2:50pm — No Comments

The Birthday Question

It's not my birthday but we had a thought provoking speaker Michael Cedar,, speak to the JICNY emerging leadership board this week. He ended the presentation with the birthday question.  "What do you want to be different than 365 days ago?"

My blog has been missing in action for the last few weeks. I was swamped by my daughters bat mitzvah, all the family coming in, then packing up my Jerusalem…


Added by Jodi on July 27, 2016 at 3:30pm — No Comments

Eyes Wide Open

My husband and I are co-founders of an organization that targets young professionals in NY and now Israel called Jewish International Connection New York- We pride ourselves on making over 100 matches from our events.  Last night a friend sent me an email with the  subject line "remember this guy?" I proceeded to read the link she sent. …

Added by Jodi on May 12, 2016 at 3:16am — No Comments

Traveling with Eyes Wide Open

We are presently traveling in India. It is really amazing, so unfamiliar yet so spectacular. People warned us about the poverty, the dirt and the chaos. I guess that because we are from Africa, and having travelled so much including Africa, we had seen poverty and filth. What makes India so intense and interesting is the different religions living side by side - each with millions of followers adhering to norms of dress, prayer, diet, customs and community. Yet each religious group is sure…


Added by Jodi on April 25, 2016 at 3:30pm — No Comments

An Unsung Hero

I was recently in New York for work.  I went to friends for Shabbat lunch and another family I know was there.  The wife said, "I was just talking about you last night." She told me that the discussion at the Shabbat table was about families that have made the big move to Israel and she was telling people that we are an example of a family that made a seamless transition and are happy. I laughed; I guess all those positive Facebook posts can be deceiving. I certainly have not found the move…


Added by Jodi on March 12, 2016 at 7:17pm — No Comments

Lots of Dirty Secrets

Recently my social media feed has been filled with posts about the failings of the Jewish community to effectively include people with special needs.  The confluence of the recent annual Jewish Day school conference and February being National Disability Month has contributed to the rhetoric. Sadly, I have been a passionate advocate for inclusion of special needs people for 8 years and I cannot say that the needle has moved much.

Having lived and advocated for inclusion in…


Added by Jodi on February 18, 2016 at 2:02pm — No Comments

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