This is a poem by a friend of ours. Check it out, and take a look at other items in this new online journal dedicated to exploring and destigmatizing mental health-related issues.
If you’ve been following the blog for a little while, you know that Humanistic Jew, Jr., was hospitalized last year. (If you didn’t know this, now you do. I’ve been open about it. April 30 was the one-year anniversary of the start of the first of two hospitalizations.) He was in a behavioral health (that’s the nice way of saying, “suicides, overdoses, and other acute psychiatric problems”) facility twice over the course of a month.
I haven’t mentioned that while there were people who were there for us, there were people we thought would be there for us but who were decidedly not.
It was isolating. That was made worse by what treament was like.
(I will freely admit that this post is largely an emotional reaction. Tough. Go read something else if that bothers you.)
The “Daily Reyd” feature at Rabbi Gil Student’s Torah Musings blog has a link to an article at the Orthodox Union’s website. Titled “The Gabbai With Autism: A Living Lesson In Inclusion,” the article talks about Eli Gorelick, a young man with autism who serves as one of several gabbaiim in his congregation.
I will first say that the synagogue’s ability to adapt to Eli and to effectively welcome him to lay leadership is–or should be, anyway–a model for inclusion for those able and willing to serve with accommodation. I have no quibble at all with any of that, and it’s precisely that kind of thing that we’re missing in so many other places.
My problem, of course, is going to be the theodicy piece. Eli’s father is himself a rabbi, and when one of Eli’s siblings asked his father why God made Eli the way He did, the answer was, “Hashem wanted us to do chesed for Eli.”
And that, dear reader, is when I decided it was time to take the day’s lunch break.