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Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

We value diversity and inclusion by embracing the variety of Jewish experience, thought, and practice. There is more than one way to believe, practice, and live as a Jew and we recognize that. We are a community for people of all backgrounds, gender orientations, and sexualities who support our mission and values. That also means embracing interfaith families.  

Inclusion is one of our core values and we strive to be responsive to the needs of our congregants, their families, and guests while they worship, socialize, and learn with us. We celebrate the uniqueness of each individual and welcome diversity within our community. 

We try our best, and this means being an open, welcoming, and inclusive community requires us to balance competing needs. Turning up the lights for those with weakened vision may cause headaches for others. Please let us know if there is anything you would like us to know so that we can help you and your family members participate in our community as fully as each would like. The accommodation request form can be submitted for any activity at CEC. 

Accommodations such as streaming, large print prayer books, visual aids, and sensory spaces are readily available. Captioning and Sign Language Interpreting can be provided upon request. These and other requested accommodations are available to ensure that all are able to participate meaningfully in all spiritual, educational, and live cycle events. We want to help you feel seen, heard, and welcome. At the same time, we know we can't address every need. Thank you for your understanding that we aspire to balance the needs of all guests to help them fully participate, and there are times when we cannot meet them all.

In terms of our facilities, you’ll find we have: 

An all-gender restroom in the office 

Designated parking spaces 

Electronic entry doors 

Preferred seating in our sanctuary and classrooms 

A ramp to access the bima

 In terms of what we offer: 

Sound amplification headsets

Wheelchairs available on-site

Highchair and booster chairs

English transliteration of Hebrew texts and prayers

Large-print books for services 

Magnifying lenses and book lights 

American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters are available upon request 

A table with quiet sensory activities for children who may have difficulty sitting still

Assistants for supporting students with distinct learning abilities in the Religious School  

Flexible requirements for b’nai mitzvah to ensure that students of all ability levels can achieve success

A resource room for pull-out sessions for children whose learning needs can’t be met in their classroom

Ceremonies and life-cycle events for interfaith and LGBTQ+ couples

Livestreaming of worship for those unable to attend in person

Financial options available for membership, program fees, and education to avoid barriers to participation

Dedicated inclusion specialist on staff 

Our Inclusion Specialist welcomes requests for additional accommodations. Please email any questions or concerns to

We are

Individuals and couples; seniors and students.

Families with young children and empty nesters.

Single parents, blended famlies, widows, and windowers.

LGBTQ+ and their allies, Jews of Color, Jewish, Jew-ish, and interfaith.

Youth and 20/30s who are exploring their identity.

Rachel Wood

Inclusion Specialist 

Rachel Wood has been a proud member of Congregation Etz Chaim since 1979. She began teaching in the Religious School shortly after becoming a member, first Judaica but then as part of the Hebrew faculty.   

Her varied posts were 3rd grade Hebrew teacher, language lab creator for learners with specifics needs, 6th grade Hebrew teacher, and the B’nai Mitzvah tutor. These days she works as an inclusion specialist not only at Etz Chaim, but also as a mentor to support Jewish institutions as they provide inclusion opportunities for their students. She aids teachers and teaching assistants who have children in their classes with diagnosed learning disabilities. She offers suggestions and materials for children who need to approach learning in a non-traditional manner. On top of that, she supports adults by providing a sign language interpreter as well as use of a CART system (closed captioning). 

Rachel is a licensed speech/language pathologist with an emphasis in child development and learning styles. She put that to use in public schools, private practice, and early intervention programs.

Fri, July 12 2024 6 Tammuz 5784