The Inclusion Confession

Rebecca SchorrBy: Rabbi Rebecca Schorr

The central section of the Yom Kippur liturgy is the public confession known as the “viddui.” Originally patterned after the priestly narrative of Yom Kippur in Leviticus 16, the current iteration, with its poetic catalogue of sins, is the work of our rabbinic sages, who believed that the best way to have mastery over our behaviors is to recognize, name, and internalize our wrongdoings. Only then can we hope to overcome them. Following the traditional rubric, this new viddui is meant to help us recognize, name, and internalize the many ways we continue to exclude those in our community whose abilities differ from ours.

For the sin that we have sinned before You under duress and willingly; and for the sin we have  sinned before You through the hardness of heart.

For the sin that we have sinned before You by failing to include every member of our community.

For the sin that we have sinned before You by making it difficult for those who are different to find their places in our synagogues, schools, and organizations

and for the sin that we have sinned before You for thinking that we are doing all that we can.

For all these, O God of mercy,

forgive us, pardon us, grant us atonement.

For the sin that we have sinned before You by building ramps without widening doorframes.

For the sin that we have sinned before You for dedicating seats for those with mobility difficulties without constructing accessible bathrooms.

For the sin that we have sinned before You for installing assisted hearing devices and allowing speakers who believe themselves to have loud voices to speak without using the sound system

and for the sin that we have sinned before You for believing we are being inclusive when we don’t truly include all.

For all these, O God of mercy,

forgive us, pardon us, grant us atonement.

For the sin that we have sinned before You by using words to tear down rather than build up.

For the sin that we have sinned before You by not removing words from our vocabulary that are outdated, outmoded, and unacceptable.

For the sin that we have sinned before You for standing idly by while our family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers use words like “retard” or “retarded” to describe a person or situation

and for the sin that we have sinned before You by not speaking out when these words are  bandied about by rock stars, sports figures, and pop icons.

For all these, O God of mercy,

forgive us, pardon us, grant us atonement.

Courtesy of B'nai Amoona Synagogue, St. Louis

Courtesy of 2013 Ruderman Prize in Disability B’nai Amoona Synagogue, St. Louis

For the sin that we have sinned before You for staring at the child having the public tantrum and assuming he needs better discipline.

For the sin that we have sinned before You for judging that child’s mother rather than offering her a sympathetic glance.

For the sin that we have sinned before You by accommodating those with physical limitations while not making accommodations for those with developmental limitations

and for the sin that we have sinned before You by not providing support and respite for the parents and caregivers.

For all these, O God of mercy,

forgive us, pardon us, grant us atonement.

For the sin that we have sinned before You under duress and willingly; and for the sin we have sinned before You through the hardness of heart.

For the sin that we have sinned before You turning away from those who seem different.

For the sin that we have sinned before You by putting those who seem different into categories such as “less able” and “undesirable.”

For the sin that we have sinned before You for failing to recognize a piece of You in every soul.

For ALL these, O God of mercy, forgive us, pardon us, grant us atonement.

Ordained by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Rabbi Rebecca Einstein Schorr is a CLAL Rabbis Without Borders Fellow, a contributing author of The New Normal: Blogging Disability, and the editor of the CCAR Newsletter. Writing at her blog, This Messy Life, Rebecca finds meaning in the sacred and not-yet-sacred intersections of daily life. Engage with her on Twitter!

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28 Comments

Filed under Disabilities rights, perceptions of disability

28 responses to “The Inclusion Confession

  1. Judy Pearl

    I love the Inclusion Confession! I sent it to my Rabbi in hopes he’ll include it in the regular confession prayers. Great teaching opportunity for the congregations.
    Thank you!

    _______________________________
    Judy Pearl, Director, Special Needs Services
    Jewish Community Centers of Greater Boston
    333 Nahanton Street, Newton, MA 02459
    Phone: 617-558-6508| Fax: 617-969-5115
    jpearl@jccgb.org| http://www.bostonjcc.org
    [cid:image001.jpg@01CEA4DF.3854B1E0]

  2. I am so moved by the beauty of this blog. I sent it to my Rabbi as well. You have captured all that needs to be said and done. Thank you.

  3. Rabbi Rebecca Schorr’s prayer provides me inspiration as I begin to prepare myself for Yom Kippur tomorrow.

    Wishing all my friends a happy, healthy and inclusive new year. May we all be inscribed in the book of life.

  4. Susan Buta

    Thanks for the blessing that extends past the regular readers of this blog. It is a prayer for all of us people of faith. I’ll send the link to my Christian brothers and sisters. May all of you participating in Yom Kippur deeply feel God’s presence and love.

  5. I hope its OK I am going to reblog at Raising Asperger’s Kids http://asd2mom.blogspot.com of course with all do linkage.

  6. What a wonderful confession! I am sharing it on my page as well.

  7. Beautiful! We will be using it at B’nai Amoona…Where the amazing above photo was taken! Gmar Tov!

    • Rebecca Einstein Schorr

      I was so thrilled to see the picture of your shul included with my piece. I do hope that people found meaning in my viddui. G’mar tov!

  8. Reblogged this on myrainbowmind and commented:
    For the sin that we have sinned before You turning away from those who seem different.
    For the sin that we have sinned before You by putting those who seem different into categories such as “less able” and “undesirable.”
    Amen

  9. A beautifully written teachable moment for all in our community! I am sharing with our families, educators and clergy in the hopes that it will be shared with others. Thanks for such a thoughtful insight!

    Rebecca Wanatick
    Community Inclusion Coordinator
    MetroWest ABLE
    rwanatick@jfedgmw.org

    • Rebecca Einstein Schorr

      Thank you so much for sharing my words with your community and for all the work you are doing, Rebecca.

      Moadim l’simcha!

  10. Larry Opinsky

    We are proud that our shul IBnai Amoona), our Klei Kodesh (Rabbi Kaiman and Chazzan Nathanson as pictured), and our daughter inspire inclusion. What a wonderful way to pass this message along through an inspirational vidui adaptation. Excellent article that I have shared with ALL of my friends from all religions. May we all be inscribed in the book of life.

  11. Scott Badesch

    Wonderful and so important

  12. maggie sarachek

    Thank you so much for this reading. It completely describes my experience in the Jewish community — even in synagogues and schools that consider themselves very progressive and open. It has made me feel so much less connected to the Jewish community — like it’s another place I have to fight rather than a place of family and acceptance.

  13. Lynda Wachsteter

    Beautiful words to read at the new year and remind us of what is so important. Thank you for sharing with our MetroWest community.
    Lynda Wachsteter
    President
    Jewish Service for the Developmentally Disabled ( JSDD)

  14. I am moved into tears by the beautiful sermon. I have a 28 year old daughter, Devora who was told to leave our Temple over 5 years ago after making sounds during a Simchat Torah service and has yet to be brought back. Devora is abled in her own way and is out in the community with me 7 days a week trying to explain to others that everyone has potential to do something and should be a welcomed member especially at their Temple. To read her story, please go to http://www.framesbydevora,com. I have sent your sermon on to our new Rabbi and others in the community.
    Thanks Sheila and Devora

    • Rebecca Einstein Schorr

      Stories like Devora’s always sadden me. Because God’s House truly is meant to be a house for all. NO ONE should be asked to leave. And davka, on Simchat Torah? The day when we are all rejoicing? Should not her sounds join in the cacophony? I sincerely hope that my piece eases the way for your community to do teshuvah and fling open its doors to all who seek to enter.

      Moadim l’simcha!

  15. Jery zz

    I know it’s an old post…..but I say u have a way with words in prayer
    Imagine god hearing your prayer on Passover about the resentments and
    Chometz.

    After all many laws in tefillah we derive from chana …the mother in pain

    R. Zzz

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