Adath Shalom in Morris Plains received the Solomon Schechter Award for its hosting of the “Chairs of Inclusion” project of the Jewish Service for the Developmentally Disabled’s Wae (Wellness, Art & Enrichment) Center. Under the direction of synagogue education director Charlotte Frank, each class created its own chair to depict how and why it is inclusive.
Chairs of Inclusion was conceived in honor of the 10th anniversary of the Wae Center in West Orange. Professional artists were commissioned to create, in collaboration with the center’s member artists, 11 life-sized chairs. The project was designed so that the chairs represent a commitment to the idea that every person is entitled to a seat at the table in communities and in families.
At Adath Shalom, each grade used a specific book to start the classroom discussion, and upon completion of the project, they sat on the chairs with the goal of reminding everyone of their intended message.
The award, which recognizes congregations for innovative initiatives, will be presented at United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism’s Shape the Center Conference in Chicago in November. It includes a $1,000 grant and the opportunity for awardees to lead a workshop so the project can be replicated. Out of 180 applications, 16 winners were selected for the award.