Max celebrates his Bar Mitzvah

December 5, 2013 | Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit

Before Max began working with Opening the Doors, a program facilitated by Federation’s Alliance for Jewish Education, attending Hebrew School at Temple Israel was a much greater challenge for him than for most kids his age. That’s because Max, a bright 15-year old, has Asperger’s Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder that significantly impairs an individual’s social skills and makes social settings—such as a typical classroom—extremely difficult to navigate.

In the fourth grade, Max was introduced to Opening the Doors and his experience changed dramatically. Paired with a peer support “shadow,” as well as a special education coordinator and specialized tutors, Max thrived at Temple Israel and was a proud Bar Mitzvah in 2009. Max’s Bar Mitzvah was profound for him “I felt closer to G-d,” he says, “It made me proud of being Jewish.” As a part of the program, Max made his own talit to wear on the bimah. He plans to give the talit to his brother Gabriel, who also has Asperger’s syndrome, and is currently in the Opening the Doors program at Temple Israel.

Opening the Doors is committed to ensuring that students with diverse learning and behavioral challenges receive a meaningful Jewish education. This nationally recognized program has grown in recent years and now serves over 900 students and their families.

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