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  • 		                                		                                <span class="slider_title">
		                                    Diversity & Inclusion		                                </span>
		                            <span class="slider_description">At Congregation Etz Chaim, we take diversity and inclusion seriously. We are grounded in the belief that all are created b’tselem Elohim (in God’s image). B’tselem Elohim reminds us of the importance of equal access and equal opportunity.   

Inclusion is a mindset, an attitude, and a way of thinking that provides opportunities for meaningful engagement, contributions, and belonging for our community. You’ll see inclusion demonstrated not only in the facilities, but what we offer our guests.</span>

Inclusion is one of the core values of the synagogue and we are always striving 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.

Accommodations such as, Streaming, large print Siddurim, Visual Aids, and sensory spaces are readily available.   Upon request Captioning and Sign Language Interpreting can be provided. These and other requested accommodations are available to ensure that all are able to participate meaningfully in all spiritual, educational, celebratory events. For specific accommodations or if you have a need we aren't accommodating, please contact 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 the 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 so congregants may access the bima

 In terms of what we offer our guests, if they need it, we have: 

  • Sound amplification headsets  
  • Large-print books for all services 
  • Magnifying lenses and book lights 
  • American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters 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 classrooms  
  • A resource room for pull out sessions for children whose learning needs can’t be met in their classroom 

Our Inclusion Specialist welcomes requests for additional accommodations. Please email any questions or concerns to You’ll find more information about our inclusion specialist below.    

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. Beyond our worship and learning experiences, we open our doors to the fellowships of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Al-Anon.  

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.

Tue, June 6 2023 17 Sivan 5783