A Jewish Approach to the Plastic Straw Debate

A Jewish Approach to the Plastic Straw Debate

Drawing on the wisdom of the Talmud and the nuanced arguments of halakhah, a Rabbi presents a thoughtful analysis of the current debate on the banning of plastic straws and how that would affect people with disabilities.

Coffee Shop Rabbi

Image: A person drinks from a plastic straw. (Anemone123/Pixabay)

Every argument that is for [the sake of] heaven’s name, it is destined to endure. But if it is not for [the sake of] heaven’s name — it is not destined to endure. What is [an example of an argument] for [the sake of] heaven’s name? The argument of Hillel and Shammai. What is [an example of an argument] not for [the sake of] heaven’s name? The argument of Korach and all of his congregation. — Pirkei Avot 5:17

The recent disagreement between some environmental activists and disability activists about efforts to ban plastic straws has been food for thought lately.

In brief, environmental activists are concerned about the impact that plastic straws have on the marine environment, especially on the animals in that environment, and they’d like to see an outright ban on plastic straws. Disability activists have…

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Depression Isn’t Sadness and Suicide Isn’t a Cry For Help… by Steve Safran

Depression and suicide: Not looking for special treatment, but for greater awareness and, more important, better support for mental health and mental illness.

Blooms and Bubbles

Kate Spade. Anthony Bourdain. Two gut-punching suicides that have people asking “Why them? They had it all!” Sure, Bourdain lived a hard life, but Kate Spade, the queen of whimsy? She was wealthy, adored and…


We need better words. One of the biggest disservices to the field of mental health is to call the diagnosis of “depression” by the name “depression.” Everyone “gets depressed.” It’s a commonplace word: “I’m so depressed the meeting I planned fell through.” “The ending of that show was too depressing.” “He’s too depressing to be around.”

None of these examples has anything to do with the psychological definition of Depression.

People who live with depression are wired differently. Our brains perceive life differently than those who do not have depression. Let me put it another way.

Suppose you were born left-handed in this predominantly right-handed world. Suppose that was considered OK from time to…

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Show Your Mettle Day

A prosthetic leg – “It’s part of whom I am.”

The Elephant In The Room

IMG_3659 My super cool Uncle Ken is also an amputee! He showed me how to embrace the amp life long before I lost my leg.

April is Limb Loss Awareness Month, and today is Show Your Mettle Day! The Amputee Coalition of America has created this day for amputees to show their mettle (strength and resilience) by showing their metal (prosthetics, assistive devices, etc…or simply their missing limbs.)

Most people who read my blog know that I have no problem showing my leg to the world or talking about my amputation.  Not everyone is as comfortable, though.  Some amputees hide their prosthetic devices or try to cover up their missing limbs because they’re afraid of what others might think.

Amputees of the world, you don’t have to hide away.  Be proud of who you are and what you’ve been through.  Whether you were born with a missing limb or had a…

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Autism Is Nothing Like Going to Holland

“Welcome to Holland” is a lovely poem, and so is Holland. While the piece offers comforting thoughts for parents of an autistic child, it is not always a realistic portrayal. A jungle is at times more accurate – wild, untamed, seemingly chaotic… but still beautiful.

Not an Autism Mom

There’s a very famous poem called “Welcome to Holland,” written by Emily Perl Kingsley.  It’s a beautiful poem, if you haven’t read it.

To summarize, Kingsley describes what it feels like to raise a child with special needs. She says that planning for a child is like planning an exciting trip to Italy. But when your child has a disability, your plane winds up in Holland instead.


Holland isn’t as flashy or exciting as Italy. But it’s pretty, slower paced, and has windmills. And even though you really wanted that trip to Italy, you appreciate Holland for all of its beauty and serenity.

I used to love that poem. I would post it on my Facebook page and tag moms I thought would appreciate the gesture. I’ve even been sent that poem from time to time by well-meaning loved ones. And I appreciated the gesture. I still do.

But the…

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We Are All Here for Cerebral Palsy


“I am here.… We are here… and we want to the world to know!” That is the message of advocacy and self-advocacy that people with cerebral palsy and those who work with them want to convey on Friday, October 6, World Cerebral Palsy Day 2017. This campaign involves six key issues:


Public awareness and putting an end to stigma and stereotype. When people know what cerebral palsy is and is not, they are more likely to know the best way to interact with those who have the condition. For example, impaired or labored speech may lead outsiders to accidentally believe the person with CP has a cognitive disability when, in fact, he or she does not. Moreover, otherwise well-intentioned people will interact with those with CP by talking in a childlike way or look upon them with pity.


Civil rights at all levels: national, state, and local. People with cerebral palsy have the right to accessibility in public buildings, transportation, and walkways. They have the right to vote and advocate for themselves and their peers. They have the right to information and jobs.


Medical and therapeutic knowledge and information. The three primary medical and therapeutic issues are addressing the cause (though, at present, this is not entirely known), early diagnosis to ensure proper care during the critical first years of life, and effective treatment that include physical and occupational therapy, speech therapy, and cognitive interaction. Recently, physicians and researchers worldwide have pledged to work together to create clinical practice guidelines for diagnosis and early intervention of cerebral palsy.


Quality of life beyond mere survival. Beyond medical and other therapies, the overall well-being of people with cerebral palsy is of paramount concern, that is, that providing access to family and residential support services that enable them to participate in all aspects of community living with the greatest degree of independence and fulfillment possible, both in their home and the community. It also involves offering respite services to families.


Education for people with cerebral palsy and those who teach them. Children with CP have the right to a “full and appropriate public education.” Inclusion involves more than placing the student in a corner and ignoring him or her. These children deserve full interaction according to their intellectual ability, as well as well-trained educators to teach them. Education is the key to an independent and fulfilling life; with advocacy and assistive technology, college can be a possibility, not just a dream.


Making a contribution to the community and society, economically, socially, artistically, and politically. A fulfilling life is one that enables a person to contribute to society, through employment, social opportunities, artistic expression, and political involvement, including exercising the right to vote.


Cooking with Karen 01Cerebral palsy is the most common physical disability and childhood birth defects. The condition affects physical movement, but people with CP may have any one or a combination of learning, intellectual, visual, or hearing disabilities. Worldwide, more than 17 million people living with CP, and some 350 million family, friends, and professionals support and care for and about them.


Before we were Advancing Opportunities, our agency was known as Cerebral Palsy of New Jersey. Although our name change reflects the fact that we serve people with all disabilities in New Jersey, cerebral palsy is still a significant part of what we do.


A Fellow Blogger Writes on Explaining Autism to Siblings

Do you need help explaining autism to siblings? Parents of children with autism often have difficulty explaining autism to their other children. You are not alone. This post is written in collaboration with The Innovation Press. All opinions are my own. Explaining autism to siblings can be tricky. I suggest you break down the…

via Explaining autism to siblings (+ free printable conversation prompts) — Special Learning House


Web Resources

Fellow blogger Neurodivergent Rebel, has published a list of useful sites for people with autism. Here is the link to the original article.

Neurodivergent Rebel

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