Inclusion, Accessibility, and Accommodations
We at Beth El Hebrew Congregation strive to make our community welcoming, inclusive, and accessible for our members and guests. Our goal is to make sure that all who come through our doors can participate in worship and other activities as fully as they desire.
Creating a truly accessible and inclusive environment is an ongoing effort that is headed by our congregation's Inclusion Committee, which was created in 2008. The accommodations listed below are currently available to improve access to our building, grounds, and programs. Other accommodations may be available upon request. Please contact our main office staff by phone (703-370-9400) or email ([email protected]) for additional information about these or other accommodations.
In the Sanctuary
- Assistive hearing devices—sound amplification devices that can be used with your own headset or one of our headsets
- Large print prayer books
- Live streaming of services for people who are unable to attend in person
- Two wheelchairs and several walkers are available for use in the sanctuary and throughout our building and grounds.
Access to the Sanctuary
- Ground-level wheelchair access from the exterior of the building into the main sanctuary.
- A wheelchair ramp to/from the main sanctuary from Beth El's West Foyer.
- Spots for parking wheelchairs in the main sanctuary that can be accessed from the main lobby or the West Foyer.
Access to the Building
- Reserved parking for people with disabilities near the main entrance and the West Foyer entrance.
- Curb cuts from the main parking lot to a wheelchair ramp with a hand rail that leads to the main entrance doors
- Handrails on the steps to the main entrance doors
- Automatic door openers on the main entrance of the building
- Automatic door openers on the bathrooms on the main hallway.
The Religious School:
Has a special education coordinator on staff (who is a licensed special education teacher in the state of Virginia) to provide appropriate classroom accommodations. The coordinator:
- Collaborates with teachers individually to support students with special needs, and provides professional development on special needs and inclusion for all the teachers.
- Provides guidance to parents (including responding to requests to observe/support their children who are students).
- Works closely with students with special needs and with madrichim (students who serve as teacher aides) who have been trained to work with students with special needs.
- Serves as a liaison to families with children who may need accommodations for bar/bat mitzvah.
- Is the liaison between the Religious School and the Inclusion Committee.
- Provides various tools for teachers to use to address individual student needs including resource books, noise canceling headphones, seat cushions, a weighted scarf, yellow color overlays, numerous fidgets, and whisper phones.
- The religious school instructors and all the madrichim (students serving as teacher aides) participate in an in-service training for all Northern Virginia religious school teachers every fall.
- Holds meetings to assess community needs and plans programs to foster disability awareness and inclusion. Recent programs have included screenings of ReelAbilities Festival films and a brunch/speaker program featuring inclusion advocate and comedian Pamela Schuller.
- Makes recommendations to the Beth El Board of Directors.
- Welcomes the participation of congregation members and guests.
Beth El Hebrew Congregation also consults and coordinates information and programs with other local Jewish organizations. Resources include:
- The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington's Inclusion Stories
- The ReelAbilities Film Festival – Northern Virginia, which is organized and managed by the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia
- Specialized workshops offered by the Jewish Social Services Agency