Accessibility at Beth El 2016

Categories: Community Voices, Inclusion

Funny how there are issues which you think are someone else’s problem. Until one day it becomes yours as well.

I’ve been aware of some of some of the accessibility problems in our building.  A few months ago, I even recommended an accessibility expert, who came out to do an assessment of our facility.  But until the day arrived when I personally experienced an obstacle, I did not fully realize that these challenges can affect any one of us.  I was dealing with a bad knee and attempting to walk up the concrete steps to the “brown door” entry, something I’d done for half a century without a problem.  But on that day I barely made it to the top (certainly not without wincing and struggling).   I realized then and there how difficult it is for those with mobility challenges to walk up these steep steps.  For people with bad knees, or those who use a cane, a walker, or a wheelchair, getting to services in our Sufrin sanctuary or to a program in the Community Room is a problem that needed to be addressed, and not just with band aid treatment.  Yes, we’ve offered alternatives (use the glass doors that are heavy–and for some difficult to open–and then commence a lengthy walk to the Sufrin or Community Room).  There has to be a better way. I believe there is, and I believe it can work!

After a number of meetings and conversations with Steve Hecht and Andy Schaer, we’ve come up with a plan for Saturday morning Shabbat services taking place in the Sufrin.  It will require some tweaking, and will require a buy in on the part of you, our congregants, to make it all come together.  But I firmly believe it will ultimately be viewed by everyone as a benefit for anyone entering our facility who struggles with the difficult steps or a lengthy walk.  Below is an outline of the plan and the measures we are taking to assure that it will ultimately work:


  • One (additional) designated “Handicapped” parking spot will be available for use adjacent to the Office/School entrance on Saturday mornings.
  • The doors leading into the office/school entrance will be unlocked on Saturday mornings beginning at 9 a.m. until 11:30 a.m.
  • Signage will direct those using this entrance to our elevator (which is rarely used at this point in time).
  • Directions on using the elevator will be posted both outside and inside the elevator.
  • Elevator users will be directed to Floor 3 button that leads directly to the entrance to the Sufrin Sanctuary.
  • We are hopeful that there will be one or more greeters from 9:45 to 10:45 a.m. helping to welcome those coming into the building using this entrance.  There will also be someone at the Sufrin Sanctuary doorway to guide one to a seat.
  • And though greeters will not be present earlier nor later than the above times, the doors will remain unlocked until the conclusion of services.  And leaving the building will not be a problem because the doors will open from within.


WE ARE ASKING FOR MEMBERS (INCLUDING TEENS) TO SERVE AS GREETERS AT THE OFFICE ENTRANCE IN ONE HALF HOUR SHIFTS. (9:45-10:15; 10:15-10:45).  Please let me know if you are able and willing to serve. (412.398.3785 or email hidden; JavaScript is required).

This will enhance the entire process.

If you have questions or concerns (we’ll accept compliments as well!) please let one of us know.

We would like to have this up and running by May 7 at the very latest.  Help  us make this a success!

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