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The Miracle Project Judaica

The Miracle Project Judaica (TMPJ), uses Jewish music, dance, story and culture to create an inclusive, dynamic, Jewish community for individuals with autism and other special needs. The Miracle Project Jewish-themed program has been selected as one of the top innovative Jewish programs in Los Angeles by Slingshot. Slingshot has grown to become an important funding source, a closely watched seal of approval, and a leading voice advocating for innovation in Jewish life. For more information on the 2017 Slingshot Guide and details into the selection process used to choose The Miracle Project as one of this year’s featured organizations, visit slingshotfund.org.

The Miracle Project Judaica also received a grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles for their Caring for Jews in Need Grant to create The Miracle Project for Adults (TMPA). TMPA is a unique socialization program for adults with disabilities that uses Jewish music, dance, and tradition to build self-confidence, self-advocacy skills, and self esteem in a supportive, creative community. Participants meet weekly with non-disabled peers for 1.5 hours to develop, rehearse and then perform an original Jewish Musical. Jewish educators and volunteers are trained in an evidence-based methodology to foster understanding and true belonging.

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Through TMPA, our adult class had co-lead services at the following Synagogues in the Los Angeles area:

  • Nashuva
  • Beit T’Shuvah
  • Adat Ari El

 

Read what Cantor Judy Dubin Aranoff of Temple Adat Ari El had to say about TMPA co-leading services:

“I must tell you something. The songs and reading/speech touched people in a very deep way. So:  2 things:

First:  One of our musicians (our drummer) was so moved when he heard Chloe sing Barcheinu;  Chloe:  this guy grew up hearing that song, and when you started singing—-with your very beautiful voice—-he got somewhat emotional.

Second thing:  On Shabbat morning, our Rabbi (not the Rabbi who sang with us, Jessica, but our Senior Rabbi, Jonathan Bernhard) was giving his D’rasha (sermon) and was talking about the Torah portion for the week.

In that portion, it described how the children of Israel were sick and tired of eating the manna. Here they had just left slavery in Egypt……they were free and not starving (because they had the manna) and yet they were complaining.  They were apparently bored of eating it…..but again:  they had food and they were free!!

What was up with them?!?

After some reflection on some comments by some medieval (or older) rabbis, our Rabbi said the following:

The children of Israel were forgetting to be grateful.  They were forgetting to take in the positive aspects of their situation.  They just were not looking “on the bright side.”  They were doing what so many of us today do:  finding reasons to complain instead of finding whatever could be positive in their situation, and realizing how lucky they were for the good parts of their lives. 

And then Rabbi Bernhard read Neal’s speech on Gratitude.  He said it was way better than what he’d come up with to end his sermon.  And believe me:  Neal:  your speech really brought the point home—yes, we can acknowledge challenges, but how about acknowledging and experiencing and even trying to focus on all the things we have in our lives to be grateful for?!?

Thank you all so much for all that you do and for filling our lives this past Shabbat.”

 

 

Here’s what a congregant from a Temple had to say about their experience:

“Last Friday night I was moved to tears at how beautiful and eloquent the miracle project participants were and how important it was to make there be a space in our community to feature the stories and experiences of these amazing fellow men and women who navigate the world through different learning processes. The glorious singing and spoken word enriched my Shabbat beyond words. True talent!  I can’t wait to invite them back!”

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The Miracle Project Judaica (TMPJ) not only addresses the needs of children with autism spectrum disorders, it embraces and strengthens the entire family. Encouraging creative play and fostering relationships, this Jewish-based musical theater and film program offers an opportunity for parents, siblings, and children, teens and young adults with disabilities to come together in an inclusive environment to explore Jewish culture and stories through dance, music and theater.  TMPJ, a project of the acclaimed theater arts organization The Miracle Project, offers its programs and workshops in Los Angeles  with plans to make its trainings and resources available to synagogues, JCCs, and other institutions across the country. TMPJ offers children with a wide spectrum of disabilities the chance to perform on stage and grow in self-confidence while supporting the whole family. Innovative in its “reverse inclusion” model, TMPJ’s creative music, dance, acting, and writing programs encourage children of all abilities to work together and learn from one another, helping siblings learn to cooperate and understand one another better while encouraging friendships and improving social skills for all children. TMPJ recognizes that parents of children with disabilities also need support; therefore, the program offers Torah-based discussion groups and time to talk for adults as well. When it comes time for the child with disabilities to become a bar or bat mitzvah, TMPJ uses a unique, creative multi-sensory approach to Torah learning that recognizes and honors the ability of each child and allows the entire family to join in this important lifecycle event. “  from the Slingshot  Disabilities and Inclusion Supplement 13-14

Elaine Hall offers Synagogues and other faith-based institutions  across North America, her critically acclaimed “Inclusion from Within” (I WiN) program which trains organizations how to be accepting and appreciative of  differences.

Neal Bar MitzvahThe Miracle Project Judaica teaches others how to create a multi-sensory, individualized Bar/Bat Mitzvah for children who have special needs and a dynamic post-B’nei Mitzvah program.

The Miracle Project is entering into its eleventh year in California.

The Miracle Project and The Miracle Project Judaica are licensed by the 501c3 non-profit, Project Miracles, which also provides low-cost methods for building community by training lay people, teen volunteers, and professionals in Hall’s unique methodology, The Seven Keys. With these Seven Keys trainings, new communities gain an understanding of autism and lose the once held fears that they may have held from the ‘unknown. Those impacted with autism and their families benefit from increased friendships, self-confidence and community.