Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah
Celebrating Unity and Inclusion
Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, celebrated at the end of Sukkot, emphasize the the unique bond between Hashem and His people and the great joy of completing and restarting the cycle of reading the Torah. These celebrations, focusing on unity and shared experiences, mirror the principles of inclusion and belonging. Just as every letter of the Torah is essential to its entirety, every individual, regardless of ability, plays a crucial role in our community. The joy and exuberance with which we celebrate Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah serve as a reminder of the unparalleled joy that inclusivity brings to all of our lives.
Libenu, in its essence, is a reflection of these values. Libenu seeks to create an environment where everyone, regardless of ability, feels a sense of belonging and is valued. Libenu’s mission aligns perfectly with the spirit of Shmini Atzeret – a day that represents a deep bond and a moment of pause to savor the closeness of Hashem. Just as this day encourages introspection and the appreciation of a special relationship, Libenu urges the community to recognize and cherish the uniqueness of every individual.
By advocating for inclusion, Libenu not only enhances the lives of those with disabilities but also enriches the entire community. The beauty of Simchat Torah is in its cyclical nature, underscoring the idea that every end is a new beginning. Similarly, each success of inclusion and each stride towards belonging represents a fresh start, a new opportunity to create a world that is more understanding, compassionate, and united. As we dance with the Torah and celebrate its teachings, let’s also dance towards a future where everyone finds their rightful place in the circle of community and life.
Lev Respite Hits The Road!
What better way to enjoy Chol HaMoed Sukkot than through exciting field trips? With its vast array of attractions, Chicago served as the perfect backdrop for Libenu’s Lev Respite to “hit the road”, explore, and learn. The week included trips to the Shedd Aquarium, Museum of Science and Industry, Sky High Sports, and the Lincoln Park Zoo. But beyond the skyscrapers and the hustle and bustle of Chicago’s streets, the true success of the field trip lay in the radiant smiles and gleaming eyes of the Lev participants. As they laughed, questioned, and marveled at the world around them, it was evident that this journey was about more than just sightseeing. It was about creating moments of wonder, fostering a sense of community, and building lifelong memories.
One of the highlights of the week was an exciting Simchat Beit Hashoeva/Sukkah Party at the home of Mendy and Aviva Berger. The party was generously sponsored by Beth Bassman, in memory of her sister Avigayil Bat Zindel. Beth noted that her sister Abbie, who had special needs, was the reason that Beth became a special educator. Special thanks to Beth for sponsoring the Sukkah party and may Abbie’s neshama have an aliyah in the merit of your kindness and generosity. Thank you to Mendy and Aviva Berger for opening your home to Lev Respite and for sponsoring the Chol HaMoed Sukkot program.
Heartfelt thanks to the dedicated team of counselors, – Daniel Marks, David Raviv, Gadi Kalman, Jared Mark, and Naftali Amster, who made this trip a testament to what passionate individuals can achieve when they come together with a shared vision. Lev Respite is deeply grateful for their selfless dedication and the memories they helped create for our children during this exceptional week. Yasher Koach to Rivka Schaffel, Lev Respite Supervisor, for coordinating a wonderful, exciting, and educational week!
On behalf of the entire Libenu community, we extend heartfelt wishes to you and yours for a healthy, joyous, peaceful, and fulfilling new year.
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach!