By David R. Cohen | firstname.lastname@example.org
In the summer of 2009, Congregation Beth Tefillah member Jeremy Tepper celebrated becoming a bar mitzvah in Israel and raised more than $2,000 for LOTEM as part of its Mitzvah to Mitzvah program.
Tepper, whose father was left disabled by a 1982 diving accident, felt a personal connection to LOTEM and its work with special needs children and adults. After his bar mitzvah service, Tepper and his family hiked on LOTEM’s inclusive trail at Emek HaShalom.
It was the first time that Tepper and his father, Dr. Mitchell Tepper, had been able to hike together in nature.
“It’s not something you get to do all the time,” said Tepper, now 19. “Hiking is one of the most memorable parts of any trip to Israel, so to do it with my dad was really a great experience.”
During their time at Emek HaShalom, the Teppers commemorated the event with cake at the farm with LOTEM staff members. For Tepper’s father, who works with people who have disabilities, hiking on the LOTEM trail was a special experience.
“What would typically happen,” he said, “is that I would take a path that is accessible to me, and then when we get to a place where I can’t go, I’d have to stop and just watch. I would never be able to participate alongside my family unless we were on a paved path. On LOTEM’s trail I was able to go everywhere they went.”
Jeremy Tepper is now a sophomore at Georgia State University and is majoring in computer science. Three years ago, he started Tepper Photography to shoot photos at events.
He said he would love to see an organization in the United States do what LOTEM has done in Israel for people with special needs.
“My dad and I were just in Miami and worked with an organization called Shake a Leg that does adaptive sailing, kayaking and snorkeling for people with all kinds of disabilities, so to see that more in different areas would certainly be great,” Tepper said.