Where does a child or adult who has developmental or severe learning disabilities and a short attention span go for a Shabbat morning service? Sitting through two hours or more of a typical service, trying to follow everything in Hebrew without fidgeting or making noise is simply too challenging for many of them. To address this concern, Congregation Beth Israel and Gesher Disability Resources (formerly Council For Jews With Special Needs) created a modified service filled with music, prayer, Torah and most importantly, abundant joy!
Simchat Shabbat services are held once a month starting at noon in the chapel at Congregation Beth Israel. The Clergy leads the 45 minute service using a siddur (prayer book) specially designed for Simchat Shabbat services with Hebrew, English and transliterations in enlarged type accompanied by illustrations. There is active participation by everyone who attends. This is a “no shush” service at which all expressions of prayer are welcomed.
The Simchat Shabbat program was presented with the 2008 Belle Latchman Community Service Award by the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix.