Monday, July 26, 2010

My little tzaddik

I recently came across a blog post by someone, claiming that people in Israel are so much more tolerant and open to people with disabilities. I was a bit skeptical at first but just judging by the day we have had today, that person may be on to something.
By now everybody reading this knows that our darling little Y has Down Syndrome. It is a disability that is pretty apparent, as you can see it on his cute little face. Everywhere we went today, we were met with comments about our son. Not the comments that make you cringe, good comments and compliments :)
We took several cabs today, trying to get around Jerusalem and keep the kids entertained. Our first cab driver was a real sweetheart who told me not to worry about M crying in his car. When I tried to quiet him, he said, "Let him scream here, I don't mind." As we were leaving the cab and Y tried to stay in the car as he usually tends to do, the cab driver asked him his name and told us that he was a neshama- a pure soul.
Our second cab driver had a fancy car and was concerned about his leather seats. When Y got in the car, he started yelling at him to get his shoes off the seats. When he turned around and saw that Y has Down Syndrome, his tone completely changed. He apologized and called him a tzaddik, loosely translated as a "righteous person." Later on when walking down the street, a stranger spotted Y and started showering him with blessings. He told us that G'd should bless Y and called him a tzaddik several times.
That was three times in the span of about three hours. I know it sounds all romantic and idealistic. I am sure we will not be showered with blessings everywhere we go but it is reflective of an attitude that seems to exist here. The attitude that children with disabilities are "special" not just because they have extraordinary needs but because they truly are special and unique.
Y was actually born in Jerusalem, 5 years ago, in one of the larger hospitals. As soon as word got out, there was a network that sprung into action. We were getting visits and phonecalls and supports from so many people; people we barely knew or did not know at all. It was a bit overwhelming at first but it was also comforting to see so many people who had been there personally. There was such a strong emphasis on the fact that this was a difficult time for us but that there was so much good to come. There was an attitude of joy, love and acceptance at a very early stage. Looking back, I don't know how this scenario would have played out in the US. G'd puts us all where we need to be at different times in our lives
So while the services such as OT, PT and Speech may be better in the US, Israel definitely seems to have a leg up on attitude.
 Maybe it is just the prevalence of Down Syndrome in Jerusalem. Orthodox women have large families and generally do not do genetic testing. In our neighborhood alone at the time, there were about 20 children of different ages with an extra chromosome. Maybe it all comes back to the general feeling here that we are all family, we are all connected somehow and need to be there for each other.
Whatever it is, I am enjoying the TLC. And definitely agree that Y is a little tzaddik.
Our little Tzaddik with his sister, who is not too bad herself :)


  1. Beautiful post! Also really nice to hear/read what you're up to. Enjoy! Btw sorry for posting as shim. Can't figure out on my phone.

  2. amazing stories... i'm sure there's nowhere like israel, but maybe somewhere next on the list could be queens ny-- i was just telling a friend last night that i find ppl to be very tolerant and accepting here, MUCH moreso than in other communities/neighborhoods/places...