It should have been an ordinary bus ride on an ordinary day. Only it wasn't . It turned out to be a ride like no other. I was riding on the B-11 bus, going from Boro Park to Flatbush (Brooklyn), one afternoon. At a particular stop, a lively group of young Yeshiva boys boarded. They chattered noisily and happily, and as they wended their way to the rear of the bus I noticed a boy with Down syndrome among them. He seemed completely at ease and well accepted by his friends.
As I listened to the good-natured banter among the group, I watched as this special bochur took an apple from his pocket and rubbed it against his jacked until it shone. All at once, his voice broke into a loud, clear recital of Birchas Ha'eitz.
A hush fell over the entire bus as his voice rang out, clearly enunciating each word of the bracha. He said it with such fervor and kavanah as he thanked Hashem for creating the fruit he was about to eat. It was awesome to hear this child expressing this prayer, giving rich an beautiful meaning to a bracha most of us say by rote and without much thought. When he completed the bracha, murmurs of "Amen" rippled throughout the bus. I observed in amazement how even some of the passengers who did not appear Jewish, responded to the bracha in tremulous voices, many with eyes brimming with tears. It was evident that for that brief moment in time, we had all been touched in a very special way by a very special child.
Reprinted with Permission from 'The Yiddeshe Home'
This article first appeared in issue #12 of Down Syndrome Amongst Us