Tuesday, June 08, 2004

An autistic boy's beautiful words about Rabbi Hillel

Each year Valley Beth Shalom’s Tikvah Program for children with special needs leads the congregation’s Friday night service. This year the theme was the teachings of the ancient sage, Hillel. My 11-year-old son, Jacob, has autism, and he contributed to the service by writing these profound words. I wanted to share his beautiful teachings with you. I am a very proud Abba!

B’virkat Shalom,
Rabbi Bradley Artson

By Jacob Artson

Hillel was a great teacher of Torah. I love Hillel’s saying that you should never judge a person until you are in his or her shoes. I have often felt judged by people who look at me and think I am retarded because I can’t speak or move the way most people can. Hillel probably didn’t know anyone who had autism but his teachings are very meaningful to me because I love Torah just as he did, and it is very comforting to know that great Jews like Hillel have taught about me without even knowing me. I learn from him that I also need to be more patient with people and try to see their perspective before I make negative judgments about them.

The Torah helps me keep my hope and helps me keep working hard to be like other kids. I am very grateful to all of you for supporting my Hebrew School class so I can learn about how to be a good Jew and a person who earns respect.

Hillel is a wonderful role model for all people whether they have special needs or not. I have learned from Hillel that I can be a role model by living his teachings and that I am responsible for my behavior just like all typically developing people are responsible for the way they treat other people. I am very happy that I was born Jewish because this is a terrific way to live in the world as a partner with God and all of God’s creation.

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