In Israel, a new five month scholarship program being offered to young aspiring athletes – one of them could be you.
The sounds of summer echo through the tight hallway and past the front door that leads to the parking lot connecting the trailers and storefront school in a strip mall in Lakewood, New Jersey. The artwork of young children hangs prominently next to teachers’ educational posters. Inside, the teachers boast proudly of the progress of their students.
SCHI - the School for Children with Hidden Intelligence - is not your average backyard or even your average strip-mall summer camp. Beyond SCHI’s nondescript façade lies a heartwarming experience.
One of the teachers spoke about the progress of a student who has Pervasive Developmental Disorder, or PDD. The boy was unable to connect to the outside world. He could not make eye contact or relate to anyone else. He was essentially trapped in solitude and could not play with the therapists or the other children.
“Every day,” the teacher said, “we’d work on play. Every day we’d work on eye contact. [The teachers and therapists] didn’t give up.” After months of dedicated work, of numerous baby steps, the child finally made eye contact, opening him up to the world.
This is the type of progress regularly celebrated at the school whose upbeat name reflects the personalities of the people involved.
“Eight years ago, Rabbi Osher Eisenmann searched for a school for his own special-needs son,” said Sorah Gorelick, director of public relations. “After not finding the right one, Rabbi Eisenmann opened SCHI in 1995. Starting out as a small class, it has grown to a school of close to one hundred students with over fifty students on the waiting list.”
SCHI long ago outgrew its facilities. On my tour there, I walked through one of the ubiquitous back lots in the area, to the therapy center housed in one of two trailers. From the cheery voices and smiling faces, it seemed the therapists were unaware of the cramped quarters. The one computer is located in an area barely large enough for the therapist and student to squeeze in and to get to work.
Rivky Berger wants only the best for her son Yaakov. That is why she surveyed other schools for children with special needs in the New Jersey area before sending him to SCHI. “I checked out other schools,” she told me, “but came out devastated and crying. Kids were strapped in, facing walls. There was no talking, laughter, or action. And that was supposed to be one of the better schools.”
“SCHI,” Mrs. Berger conceded, “is not like walking into your standard school. You’ll hear kids singing, you’ll see an aide combing a child’s hair, making sure her part is straight. They have minimal facilities and make do on personality. There is such warmth and so much caring. There is such a personal connection, the kids feel it and respond to it.”
While SCHI serves children with a broad range of handicaps, its programs are highly individualized and innovative – always evolving with the children’s needs and the parents’ ideas. The staff is composed of men and women who clearly care for the children, want to help them grow, and work with them to overcome limitations.
In one of the trailers, where therapy is administered, a young boy hid in a snug yellow covering. The therapist exercised his arms and legs while he rolled around. When I asked about this particular type of therapy, the therapist smiled and said, “He made it up. Just a few minutes ago, this boy was acting wild and not cooperating with the other kids. When it was his time for therapy, he showed me what he wanted to do and we found that it calmed him.”
The therapist explained that sometimes children seek their own therapy, feeling instinctively what works. It’s important to listen.
SCHI is listening to the community. School officials are aware that the school’s location and size are inadequate for its needs. According to Mrs. Gorelick, “the necessity of a proper facility has become an emergency.”
The problem is financial. The school supplements its partial government funding with only one fundraising event - an annual dinner attended by, among others, the governor of New Jersey. SCHI has managed to maximize its $3 million annual budget with top of the line teachers and curriculum and bottom of the line facilities and location.
After having to squeeze into the minuscule spaces of the storefront and two trailers in the parking lot, the school finally found a location on which to build a new facility. Upon receiving a land grant from Lakewood Township, SCHI in May started building a $10 million, 54,000 sq. ft. facility that must conform to federal regulations and requirements necessary to give these children the best possible care.
The school, however, no longer has the funds to go on with the building. The contractor, cognizant of the lack of funds, has stopped construction. After months of clearing out land, SCHI’s new facility is yet another lot.
The difficulty in raising adequate funds actually stems in part from Rabbi Eisenmann’s unrelenting integrity, boundless loyalty, and dedication to the students and their families. Rabbi Eisenmann – whose warm face and modest posture gives away the answer to the question of what kind of person would build a school for very dependent children with almost no financial backing - stands firmly on his belief that taking care of students properly means interacting and
working with their parents.
While SCHI’s service to its students is what makes it a great school, it is SCHI’s dedication to, and understanding of, parents that brings it its uniqueness. SCHI has implemented a parent and family support program that includes the availability of various social workers and therapists to work with parents and families who find it difficult dealing with the complex needs of a special child in the family.
It is unlikely that anyone visiting SCHI will not be overcome with a desire to cry. The constant challenges faced by the students, coupled with the consistent warmth of the teachers and staff, is enough to bring tears to anyone’s eyes.
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Leah Katz, a TeenZone camper at Oorah’s TheZone summer camp and an 11th grader at Midwood High School, read her winning essay about how TheZone changed her views on Judaism at the Jewish Heritage Awards Ceremony held at Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes’s office in April. The purpose of the Jewish Heritage Essay Contest is to acquaint public school students with Jewish history and customs and to help foster a deeper understanding of Jewish culture. The contest is open to students of all ethnic and religious backgrounds. Leah’s essay is reproduced in full below.
Moshe Sharett, the head of the Jewish Agency’s Political Department, visited Egypt in 1945. In Cairo he met a most remarkable young woman, a beautiful journalist who was the darling of Egyptian high society – from high-ranking military brass, to culture icons and Muslim sheikhs, to the court of King Faruk.
The two proceeded to talk about everyday things and surprisingly her mother-in-law did not find anything else to criticize. This occurred a few more times, with my client changing the topic every time by complimenting her mother-in-law or mentioning something positive about her.
There is always a lot of confusion surrounding sensory processing disorder – mainly because there are many different diagnoses that fall under the catch-all phrase sensory processing disorder (SPD). Among them are three specific subcategories:
The doctor had warned us that even if we did everything right and followed the protocol after the follicle was of the right size, there was no guarantee of success. Fertilization still had to occur, and just like couples do not necessarily become pregnant every month, we had no way to know if we were actually expecting for two full weeks.
The next chapter of the award-winning novel.
Jewish Press columnist Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis, founder and president of Hineni, the international Torah outreach organization, recently addressed an overflowing audience at the Beth Jacob Congregation of Irvine in southern California. Rebbetzin Jungreis’s address theme, “Making a Good Relationship Magical,” was apropos for the evening’s main mission: raising funds for the Irvine community’s mikveh.
You have probably been planning your marriage since you were about three. Let’s fast-forward to a big milestone– your twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. (Don’t worry, you don’t look a day over twenty one!) Now, would you appreciate your husband buying you a dozen roses that some florist recommended?
As I mentioned in my earlier articles about our family trip to Israel, our night flight went pretty smooth, thanks to my children’s willingness to sleep throughout the flight. I, on the other hand, didn’t sleep a wink and I wasn’t feeling too great by the time we landed. But we were finally in Israel, and just being in the beautifully renovated Ben Gurion airport and hearing all the Hebrew around us was exciting enough.
While all the flowers that grace your Shavuos table will surely be a delight to your eye, these will be a delight for your palette as well. Create them at any level, simple or sophisticated; any way you make them they’re sure to be a sensation.
Welcome back to “You’re Asking Me?” where we attempt to answer questions sent in by people who fortunately have fake names, so they won’t be embarrassed. I don’t know how they got through school, though.
Speechless wonder is the reaction to the beautiful vision seen though the Arch of the Keshet Cave at the Adamit Park in the Galilee. One of the most amazing natural wonders in Eretz Yisrael, the Me’arat Hakeshet — also known as the Rainbow Cave or Arch Cave — can be found up against the Israel-Lebanon border just a few kilometers from Rosh Hanikra and the sparkling blue Mediterranean Sea. It is situated amid the wild scenery on the cliffs of Nachal Betzet and Nachal Namer, on the Adamit Ridge.
On my third visit to the annual New York Botanical Garden Orchid Show, I did not take any pictures.
Work-life balance has been in the media a lot lately. Anne-Marie Slaughter, a Princeton professor who served as the first female Director of Policy Planning for the U.S. State Department, wrote a groundbreaking article in The Atlantic entitled “Women Can’t Have It All.” Slaughter writes about her struggle with balance—parenting and working, and the importance of being present, as well as the importance of absolute boundaries between work and parenting. As evidence—both of the compartmentalizing men are capable of and as an example of the type of behavior women should engage in more, Slaughter writes about Orthodox men she has worked with: “Come Friday at sundown, they were unavailable because of the Jewish Shabbat.”
Now, only months after the artist’s death, is no time to be coy. Moshe Givati’s work is a revelation: dynamic, throbbing with life, pulsating with meaning. The exhibition “Equus Ambiguity – The Emergence of Maturity,” is up for only a few more days but I urge you to hurry to the Jadite Gallery and familiarize yourself with this under-recognized artist.
It’s time for the next chapter in the re-education of kosher cooks. First came correctly pronouncing quinoa, incorporating edamame into salads and soups, and who can forget the strawberry mango salad? Now, there is a mass of new recipes available with the introduction of Kolatin, a parve bovine-based, kosher gelatin. Espresso panna cotta, here we come.
Memo to the New York Public Library: I’m sorry that I still haven’t returned several books by Livia Bitton-Jackson. They are a series of vibrant, touching memoirs of a young girl navigating her way through the world, both literally and on an emotional plane; the stories of a Holocaust survivor with wanderlust in a world that doesn’t want to hear it are not easy to part with.
So often, when it comes to furniture in a home with children, there is a tug of war between functionality and beauty. Either get the industrial strength dining chairs that are ugly but never stain, or the elegant chairs that will force you to exercise your vocal cords all the time. There are those, of course, who get the beautiful chairs and cover them with industrial strength plastic, but they’re not fooling anyone. I personally prefer the happy children.
We’re in a recession. Nobody informed my twin daughters, who go through about 40 diapers a week or my son, in his first year of day school.
Rachel Levmore is not a doctor. She is, in fact, a lawyer – of Halachah.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/community/a-tight-squeeze-for-the-school-with-a-big-heart/2003/10/03/
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