RTR Strives to Maintain an Inclusive Environment
Jewish sacred texts teach us that we are obligated to welcome all through our gates, and that setting a tone of inclusiveness is one of our core tenets. However, the fact is there are many in the Jewish community who are not yet able to fully access all that our sacred community has to offer.
Our Inclusion Initiative has been in place since 2012. The goal of this effort is simple. We strive to reinvigorate and coordinate an effective effort to meet the special needs of our members and guests, and to better connect in meaningful ways during personal moments of need and times of celebration. All of our efforts serve to engender closer ties among all of us, both to each other and to our congregational home. Our congregation’s health is directly related to the bonds among ourselves – and our Caring and Inclusion Initiative contributes to those bonds.
Currently, there are four committees within this initiative: Chesed (loving kindness), Education, Nefesh (healing of mind, body and soul) and Technology:
- Our Education Committee brings religious school teachers together with volunteers from the congregation who are trained in learning disabilities and classroom management techniques. Task force volunteers plan and present workshops for our faculty that address such topics as how best to structure the classroom, implement behavioral analysis, and deal with different learning styles and teaching strategies.
- Our Technology Committee installed an assistive listening system, which enables those who wear hearing aids and others with hearing loss to follow along with what goes on in the sanctuary. We also installed a live internet streaming video system – accessible by computer, mobile device, and many television cable boxes – to bring worship and programming to congregants who are homebound. A flat-panel screen with frequently-updated information has been installed in the lobby, which is a high-traffic location. This allows congregants and visitors to better find their way around and to learn about temple offerings and upcoming events.
- Mental health issues are the focus of our Nefesh (soul) Committee, which, together with other community groups, co-hosts panel discussions and seminars that address numerous mental health challenges related to parenting, anxiety, school violence and bullying, alcohol and drug addiction, and similar topics. These seminars often are co-sponsored by Jewish Family Services, United Hospice, or other community groups, and many of our volunteers offer their professional expertise as presenters. Nefesh also maintains an extensive list of mental health resources on the congregation’s website.
- Our Chesed (loving-kindness) Committee seeks to increase the sense of connectivity and community within the congregational family by supporting each other in times of sorrow and rejoicing in times of joy. In addition to reaching out to those who are celebrating a simcha, are homebound, ill, or in mourning, Chesed, together with Nefesh co-sponsors programs that address such topics as caring for the aged and visiting the sick.
Our congregation is truly blessed to have many talented, compassionate and motivated members and we feel privileged to be engaging in this work with all of you. We are furthering God’s work when we can welcome one another into our spiritual home in a more inclusive and meaningful way.
We look forward to hearing from you, and joining with you as we work towards this sacred goal.