Services this past Shabbat morning crystallized a significant challenge that we face – the bima is not accessible for some in our congregation. We honored our veterans, and offered all that would take an Aliya at the Torah. One veteran was in a wheelchair, and unable to ascend the bima for his honor, and that bothered me. In a moment of divine inspiration, I brought the Torah down the stairs to the congregation level, had him sit in the middle, with the two gabbaim holding it vertically on either side of him while they sat. I read the Torah looking over his shoulder, which might have been a bit inconvenient, but it certainly was the simplest solution to enable a veteran who so nobly served our country in time of need to be honored. Thus our problem: accessibility.
With the support of our president and ritual chair, we have situated a Torah reading table at the front of the Pervin Chapel, replacing the podium that has been utilized to lead services. This enables us to lead services and read Torah from the floor of the sanctuary, thus making the Torah accessible to many who find the stairs challenging. I invite you to join us for services, especially on Shabbat morning, to view this experiment and share your feedback. At this time, there is no plan to alter the physical layout of the Pervin Chapel, but I do want to hear your thoughts. We will carefully consider all options, and make the best possible choice we can to serve you, our congregants. We read in Psalm 120:
A Song of Ascent.
I lift up my eyes to the hills, what is the source of my help?
My help comes from Adonai, make of heavens and the earth.
God will not allow you to stumble…
Please share your feelings with me, and, if you have been unable to ascend the bima for an Aliya, I most warmly invite you back to be so honored without having to climb any stairs, or stumble.